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Pilot whale vocalizations, acoustic behavior and noise impacts


While lowering a hydrophone into the aquatic habitat of short-finned pilot whales, the listener will sometimes detect a huge variety of sounds. Depending on the whales' behavioral context, the listener will hear vocalizations such as clicks (, whistles ( or calls ( Very rare sounds still remain uncategorized ( Next to these sounds produced by the whales' nasal passages, short-finned pilot whales also produce slapping sounds ( with distinctive body parts. Though short-finned pilot whales are acoustically active animals, they also have prolonged periods of silence.

Foto ...........................
Audio library (

Click to hear a long sequence of call
exchanges recorded at night (.mp3 file with 8.3 MB)

Click to hear call exchanges (.mp3 file with 8 MB)

Click to hear click trains (.mp3 file with 1.3 MB)

Foto Click to hear underwater sound disturbance produced by a single vessel masking pilot whale click vocalizations (.mp3 file with 1.6 MB)


Click to see and mainly hear a group of short-finned pilot whales communicating (.mov file with 6.4 MB). The whales emit a variety of sounds such as clicks, whistles, grunts and calls.


Based on the time-frequency contour (= sonogram) of repetitive calls, these vocalizations can be grouped into call types. Southwest off Tenerife groups might use unique call type repertoires (


Short-finned pilot whales are supposed to live in stable social groups ( and even may form matrilinear family units. Recent spectrographic call analysis found call type matchings between recordings obtained southwest off Tenerife and those recorded southwest off La Gomera ( which might indicate that groups travel between both islands.