Click detection rate variability of central North Pacific sperm whales from passive acoustic towed arrays

Yvonne M. Barkley*, Karlina P.B. Merkens, Megan Wood, Erin M. Oleson, Tiago A. Marques

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is an optimal method for detecting and monitoring cetaceans as they frequently produce sound while underwater. Cue counting, counting acoustic cues of deep-diving cetaceans instead of animals, is an alternative method for density estimation, but requires an average cue production rate to convert cue density to animal density. Limited information about click rates exists for sperm whales in the central North Pacific Ocean. In the absence of acoustic tag data, we used towed hydrophone array data to calculate the first sperm whale click rates from this region and examined their variability based on click type, location, distance of whales from the array, and group size estimated by visual observers. Our findings show click type to be the most important variable, with groups that include codas yielding the highest click rates. We also found a positive relationship between group size and click detection rates that may be useful for acoustic predictions of group size in future studies. Echolocation clicks detected using PAM methods are often the only indicator of deep-diving cetacean presence. Understanding the factors affecting their click rates provides important information for acoustic density estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2627-2635
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


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