Fin whale acoustic presence and song characteristics in seas to the southwest of Portugal

Andreia Pereira*, Danielle Harris, Peter Tyack, Luis Matias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Fin whales were once abundant in the seas to the southwest of Portugal, but whaling activities decreased their numbers considerably. Acoustic data from ocean bottom seismometers provide an opportunity to detect fin whales from their notes, data that would otherwise be logistically challenging and expensive to obtain. Based on inter-note interval and frequency bandwidth, two acoustic patterns produced by fin whales were detected in the study area: pattern 1, described from fin whales in the Mediterranean Sea, and pattern 2, associated with fin whales from the northeast North Atlantic Ocean (NENA). NENA fin whales travel into the western Mediterranean Sea, but the Mediterranean population has not been documented to travel regularly into the NENA. In this study, 11 months of acoustic data recorded southwest of Portugal in the NENA were used to characterize 20-Hz fin whale notes into these patterns. Pattern 2 was the most common and occurred mostly in November-January. Pattern 1 occurred less frequently and mostly in September-December, February and April, which suggested a limited excursion of whales from the Mediterranean Sea. There were also occasions when the two patterns were recorded simultaneously. Results suggest that fin whales from the NENA and Mediterranean Sea might mix in the area during part of the year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2235-2249
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Early online date15 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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