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J Acoust Soc Am. 2009 Mar;125(3):1783-91. doi: 10.1121/1.3075600.

Feeding at a high pitch: source parameters of narrow band, high-frequency clicks from echolocating off-shore hourglass dolphins and coastal Hector's dolphins.

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Department of Arctic Environment, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus, Roskilde, Denmark.


Toothed whales depend on echolocation for orientation and prey localization, and source parameters of echolocation clicks from free-ranging animals therefore convey valuable information about the acoustic physiology and behavioral ecology of the recorded species. Recordings of wild hourglass (Lagenorhynchus cruciger) and Hector's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) were made in the Drake Passage (between Tierra del Fuego and the Antarctic Peninsular) and Banks Peninsular (Akaroa Harbour, New Zealand) with a four element hydrophone array. Analysis of source parameters shows that both species produce narrow band high-frequency (NBHF) echolocation clicks. Coastal Hector's dolphins produce clicks with a mean peak frequency of 129 kHz, 3 dB bandwidth of 20 kHz, 57 micros, 10 dB duration, and mean apparent source level (ASL) of 177 dB re 1 microPa(p.-p.). The oceanic hourglass dolphins produce clicks with mean peak frequency of 126 kHz, 3 dB bandwidth of 8 kHz, 116 micros, 10 dB duration, and a mean estimated ASL of 197 dB re 1 microPa(p.-p.). Thus, hourglass dolphins apparently produce clicks of higher source level, which should allow them to detect prey at more than twice the distance compared to Hector's dolphins. The observed source parameter differences within these two NBHF species may be an adaptation to a coastal cluttered environment versus a deep water, pelagic habitat.

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