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Percussive sounds of pilot whales


Next to sounds produced by the whales' nasal passages, pilot whales furthermore produce slapping or percussive sounds which can be heard over distances by conspecifics. E.g. during a behavior called 'tailslap', the whale slaps with the ventral part of the tail or tailstock on the water surface. This behavior can be repetitive with short temporal intervals between slaps. The following sound example contains -next to calls- altogether 4 tailslaps, starting with a single and ending up with 3 slaps in row.

Foto Click to hear the underwater acoustics of several tailslaps (.mp3 file with 0.4 MB)


Click to hear the acoustics of several tailslaps above the water surface (.mov file with 3.1 MB)


Click to see a pilot whale breaching 3 times in row (.mov file with 1.8 MB)

Foto Further examples of such behaviors are chinslaps, leaps and breaches, though it remains unclear whether these sounds really or only have communicative functions. E.g. during breaches pilot whales might get rid of attachments such as squid tentacles ( or barnacles.