Abstract: Diel and seasonal calling patterns for blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) were observed in coastal waters off southern California using seafloor-mounted autonomous acoustic recording packages (ARPs). Automated call counting from spectrogram cross-correlation showed peak seasonal calling in late summer/early fall. When call counts were organized by daily time intervals, calling peaks were observed during twilight periods, just after sunset and before sunrise. Minimum calling was observed during the day. Nighttime calling was greater than daytime calling, but also showed a minimum between the dusk and dawn calling peaks. These peaks correlate with the vertical migration times of krill, the blue whales' primary prey. One hypothesis to explain these diel variations is that blue whale calling and foraging may be mutually exclusive activities. Fewer calls are produced during the day while prey are aggregated at depth and foraging is efficient. More calls are produced during the twilight time periods when prey are vertically migrating and at night when prey are dispersed near the sea surface and foraging is less efficient.

Key Words: BLUE WHALE; BALAENOPTERA MUSCULUS; WHALE CALL; DIEL; DIURNAL; ACOUSTIC; SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA; NORTHEAST PACIFIC

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.31.2.2005.161

Page Numbers: 161 - 168

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