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J Acoust Soc Am. 2006 Sep;120(3):1550-7.

Underwater auditory localization by a swimming harbor seal (Phoca vitulina).

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General Zoology and Neurobiology, University of Bochum, ND 6/33, D-44780 Bochum, Germany.


The underwater sound localization acuity of a swimming harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) was measured in the horizontal plane at 13 different positions. The stimulus was either a double sound (two 6-kHz pure tones lasting 0.5 s separated by an interval of 0.2 s) or a single continuous sound of 1.2 s. Testing was conducted in a 10-m-diam underwater half circle arena with hidden loudspeakers installed at the exterior perimeter. The animal was trained to swim along the diameter of the half circle and to change its course towards the sound source as soon as the signal was given. The seal indicated the sound source by touching its assumed position at the board of the half circle. The deviation of the seals choice from the actual sound source was measured by means of video analysis. In trials with the double sound the seal localized the sound sources with a mean deviation of 2.8 degrees and in trials with the single sound with a mean deviation of 4.5 degrees. In a second experiment minimum audible angles of the stationary animal were found to be 9.8 degrees in front and 9.7 degrees in the back of the seal's head.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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