The Song of the Southeast Pacific Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) off Las Perlas Archipelago, Panama: Preliminary Characterization

Abstract: Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) aggregate in winter breeding and calving grounds in tropical waters. Acoustic features of song produced by males in breeding wintering areas remain unknown for many breeding sites such as those located in Central America. In other areas, recordings of humpback whale songs in wintering grounds have been used to establish geographical differences among populations. Previous investigations have revealed that geographically isolated populations produce distinctive songs. This study represents the first efforts to record and analyze songs from the Southeastern Pacific stock of M. novaeangliae in the tropical wintering grounds off Central America. The aim of this study was to characterize underwater sounds of whales recorded in Las Perlas Archipelago, Panama. The acoustical structure of the themes for years 2006 and 2007 was typical of songs recorded in other wintering areas. As a result of this analysis, Las Perlas Archipelago should be identified as a critical area for breeding humpback whales.

Key Words: songs, Southeast Pacific stock, Panama, humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.34.4.2008.458

Page Numbers: 458-463

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