Presentation Title

Similarities in song structure between humpback whale populations wintering off the coasts of Costa Rica and Panama

Project Collaborators

Kristin Rasmussen and Jose David Palacios

Abstract

Male humpback whales are highly vocal and are known to produce complex songs while on their breeding grounds, with each population having its own unique song. Cultural transmission has been known to occur between certain populations of humpback whales, in which new phrases or units have been adopted. Southern Hemisphere (SH) humpback whales migrate to their feeding grounds in Antarctica in the summers and then return to their breeding grounds in Central and South America in the winter. In this study, two populations of SH humpback whales, in Islas Secas in Panama and Caño Island in Costa Rica were recorded to determine if they share songs within the same breeding season. An autonomous recorder was deployed near Caño Island in August 2019 in 5-min files every 30 min, and in Islas Secas, whales were recorded continuously from the boat at various locations also in August 2019. Using the Secas recordings full song cycles were selected to analyze in Raven to identify the phrases and create a catalogue to compare with to the recordings in Costa Rica. Our preliminary results suggest connectivity between breeding sites. Understanding the social interactions and connectivity of humpback whale populations is essential to the protection of this species as well as the conservation of their breeding grounds.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura May-Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biological Science

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Similarities in song structure between humpback whale populations wintering off the coasts of Costa Rica and Panama

Male humpback whales are highly vocal and are known to produce complex songs while on their breeding grounds, with each population having its own unique song. Cultural transmission has been known to occur between certain populations of humpback whales, in which new phrases or units have been adopted. Southern Hemisphere (SH) humpback whales migrate to their feeding grounds in Antarctica in the summers and then return to their breeding grounds in Central and South America in the winter. In this study, two populations of SH humpback whales, in Islas Secas in Panama and Caño Island in Costa Rica were recorded to determine if they share songs within the same breeding season. An autonomous recorder was deployed near Caño Island in August 2019 in 5-min files every 30 min, and in Islas Secas, whales were recorded continuously from the boat at various locations also in August 2019. Using the Secas recordings full song cycles were selected to analyze in Raven to identify the phrases and create a catalogue to compare with to the recordings in Costa Rica. Our preliminary results suggest connectivity between breeding sites. Understanding the social interactions and connectivity of humpback whale populations is essential to the protection of this species as well as the conservation of their breeding grounds.