Sperm whale trumpet sounds

Valeria Teloni, Walter M. X. Zimmer, PL Tyack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus L. clicks have been studied for nearly fifty years, during which time great efforts have been made to understand the functions and production mechanisms of this sound. Other than clicks, sperm whales may also produce low intensity sounds arranged in short sequences, named trumpets, which have been recorded occasionally in the past by few groups of researchers. Sperm whale recordings collected in the Mediterranean Sea with a towed array and digital tags were used to describe the temporal and spectral characteristics of trumpets. This sound is made of a series of repeated units, around 0.2 s tong, arranged in short sequences lasting between 0.6 s to 3.5 s. Each of these units comprises an amplitude modulated tonal waveform with a complex harmonic structure, and a spectrum composed of a low frequency component at 500 Hz and a mid-frequency component at 3 kHz. The apparent source level could be estimated for one of the trumpets and was estimated to be 172 dB(pp) re: 1 mu Pa at 1m with energy flux density of 147 dB re: 1 mu Pa(2)s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • NOSE
  • trumpeting
  • Physeter macrocephalus
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • sound production
  • TAG
  • sperm whale sound


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