Measuring the off-axis angle and the rotational movements of phonating sperm whales using a single hydrophone

Abstract : The common use of the bent-horn model of the sperm whale sound generator describes sperm whale clicks as the pulse series {p0, p1, p2, p3, . . . }. Clicks, however, deviate from this standard when recorded using off-axis hydrophones. The existence of additional pulses within the {p0, p1, p2, p3, . . . } series can be explained still using the bent-horn model. Multiple reflections on the whale's frontal and distal sacs of the p0 pulse lead to additional sets of pulses detectable using a farfield, off-axis hydrophone. The travel times of some of these additional pulses depend on the whale's orientation. The authors propose a method to estimate the off-axis angle of sperm whale clicks. They also propose a method to determine the nature of the movement (if it is pitch, yaw, or roll) of phonating sperm whales. The application of both methods requires the measurement of the travel time differences between pulses composing a sperm whale click. They lead, using a simple apparatus consisting of a single hydrophone at an unknown depth, to new measurements of the underwater movements of sperm whales. Using these methods shows that sperm whales would methodically scan seawater while searching for prey, by making periodic pitch and yaw movements in sync with their acoustic activity.
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Christophe Laplanche, Olivier Adam, Maciej Lopatka, Jean-François Motsch. Measuring the off-axis angle and the rotational movements of phonating sperm whales using a single hydrophone. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Acoustical Society of America, 2006, Vol. 119, pp. 4074-4082. ⟨10.1121/1.2184987⟩. ⟨hal-00797701⟩



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