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J Acoust Soc Am. 2005 Dec;118(6):3404-7.

Click production during breathing in a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).

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Department of Zoophysiology, Aarhus University, C. F. Møllers Alle Building 131, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


A sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) was observed at the surface with above- and underwater video and synchronized underwater sound recordings. During seven instances the whale ventilated its lungs while clicking. From this observation it is inferred that click production is achieved by pressurizing air in the right nasal passage, pneumatically disconnected from the lungs and the left nasal passage, and that air flows anterior through the phonic lips into the distal air sac. The capability of breathing and clicking at the same time is unique among studied odontocetes and relates to the extreme asymmetry of the sperm whale sound-producing forehead.

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