Abstract: This study focuses on the whistle characteristics and production patterns of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) resident in the Sado Estuary, Portugal. Recordings and observations were conducted inside the estuary and in adjacent coastal waters using single hydrophones between 1987 and 2000. In the groups sampled, the mean number of whistles emitted per minute per animal was 0.28. The acoustic characteristics of a sample of 735 whistles were measured and compared with data from other Tursiops populations, showing that, in a pattern of overall similarity, the whistles recorded in the Sado are relatively long and the frequency range used is relatively wide. Mean peak frequency was 9.2 kHz. About 30% of the whistles were stereotyped, and remarkable stability was found in several contours over a 12-year period. No relation was found between dolphin group size and whistle rate, suggesting some restriction in production; and no relation was found between dolphin group size and the emission of different contours. Significant variation was found between episodes of simple travel and more aroused activities in terms of the production of whistles in general and also of different whistle contours.

Key Words: WHISTLES; ACOUSTIC PRODUCTION; BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN; TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS; ACTIVITY PATTERNS; SADO ESTUARY

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.31.4.2005.453

Page Numbers: 453 - 462

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