acta ethologica

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 47–53

The relationship between the acoustic behaviour and surface activity of killer whales (Orcinus orca) that feed on herring (Clupea harengus)

  • Malene Simon
  • Peter K. McGregor
  • Fernando Ugarte
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10211-007-0029-7

Cite this article as:
Simon, M., McGregor, P.K. & Ugarte, F. acta ethol (2007) 10: 47. doi:10.1007/s10211-007-0029-7


We describe the acoustic behaviour of piscivorous killer whales in Norwegian and Icelandic waters. Whales were assigned to one of three activities (feeding, travelling or other), and sound recordings were made in their proximity with a single hydrophone and a digital audiotape (DAT) recorder. A quantitative analysis of the production of pulsed calls, whistles and echolocation clicks in the three activities revealed that there was a significant effect of activity on the production of these sound types. Both killer whales in Icelandic and Norwegian waters produced high rates of clicks and calls during feeding and low rates of click, calls and whistles during travelling. The differences can be used as acoustical markers and provides new possibilities for acoustic monitoring of killer whales in these areas. Based on the similarity between their prey choice, hunting strategies, phenotype and acoustic behaviour, we suggest that the killer whales in Icelandic and Norwegian waters belong to the same ecotype: Scandinavian herring-eating killer whales.


Acoustic behaviour Killer whale Orcinus orca Scandinavian waters 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malene Simon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter K. McGregor
    • 3
  • Fernando Ugarte
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of AarhusAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Greenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland
  3. 3.Duchy CollegeCallingtonUK
  4. 4.Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and AgricultureNuukGreenland

Personalised recommendations