Submersible recorders pick up the animals’ clicks, calls and buzzes
Narwhals are among the most elusive of whales. But for the first time, researchers have been able to eavesdrop on the creatures for days at a time as these unicorns of the sea dove, fed and socialized.
Biologist Susanna Blackwell and colleagues listened in on the clicks, buzzes and calls of the East Greenland narwhal (Monodon monoceros). The team’s findings, published June 13 in PLOS ONE, provide a peek into the daily behavior of the long-toothed whale. The research could help scientists determine how human-made noises may affect narwhals as the Arctic warms due to climate change and shipping lanes become more open.
Many whale sounds are recorded using hydrophones, underwater microphones that dangle in the water. But these acoustic devices have several drawbacks: They can’t sense the depth or direction from which noise comes, and they can’t detect