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New Light on an Elusive Species
Ocean Wise researcher Valeria Vergara comments on new narwhal discoveries.
Posted on June 18, 2018
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Last week, the journal PLOS ONE published a study on the acoustic calls of narwhals, an elusive Arctic species whose day-to-day life we know very little about. Ocean Wise researcher Valeria Vergara, who spends her summers recording beluga whale acoustic communication, read over the study “Spatial and temporal patterns of sound production in East Greenland narwhals” and had this to say about the findings:

This study shines a bright light on the acoustic behaviour of narwhals. This is key because how sound-centered Arctic species, like narwhals and belugas, use sound is a crucial aspect of their ecology that needs to be understood if we hope to gain insight into how they are affected by an increasingly accessible and noisy Arctic.

I couldn’t help but notice similarities with beluga calls when I listened to the examples posted by the authors! In fact, we do know that narwhals and belugas produce some similar vocalizations, for example they share the same type of broadband contact call — probably as a result of their shared Arctic environment.” 

You can read the full open-access study here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0198295

The New Yorker magazine also reported on the findings here: https://www.newyorker.com/elements/lab-notes/the-strange-fading-call-of-the-narwhal


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