Seasonal acoustic behavior of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Gulf of California, Mexico

TitleSeasonal acoustic behavior of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) in the Gulf of California, Mexico
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsPaniagua-Mendoza, Aurora, Gendron Diane, Romero-Vivas Eduardo, and Hildebrand John A.
JournalMarine Mammal Science
ISBN Number1748-7692
EndNote Rec Number11360
Keywordsbalaenoptera musculus, call, Gulf of California, northeastern Pacific blue whales, Passive acoustic monitoring, seasonality, winter breeding season

Six years of passive acoustic monitoring data from the Gulf of California reveal seasonality and movements for the northeastern Pacific blue whales. Three sites were studied, one from the southern (Punta Pescadero) and two from the northern (Isla Tiburon and Canal de Ballenas) regions. A total of 4,953 h were analyzed, and 15,539 blue whale calls were detected, of which 2,723 (18%) were A calls, 11,249 were B calls (72%), and 1,567 were D calls (10%). A and B calls were produced both as song units (2,524) or AB singular calls (2,026). The high rate of songs and their seasonality suggest that the GC is a winter-breeding ground. A shift from AB call predominance in winter, to D calls in spring and early summer, especially at the entrance of the GC, suggests the importance of this area for reproduction and foraging. Analysis of calling frequency suggests a clear movement of blue whales from the southern region (Punta Pescadero) to the northern regions (Canal de Ballenas and Isla Tiburon), with subsequent southern movement in March. The seasonality and mobility of blue whales in the Gulf of California, inferred from their calling, contributes to the ecological understanding of this population.