, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 79–87 | Cite as

The relationship between the behavioral activity and the underwater vocalization of the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas)

  • E. M. Panova
  • R. A. Belikov
  • A. V. Agafonov
  • V. M. Bel’kovich
Marine Biology


The underwater vocalizations of the beluga whale summering in Onega Bay (64°24′N, 35°49′E) were recorded in June–July of 2008. The vocalizations were classified into five major whistle types, four types of pulsed tones, click series, and noise vocalizations. To determine the relationship between the behavioral activity and the underwater vocalizations, a total of fifty-one 2 minute-long samples of the audio records were analyzed in the next six behavioral contexts: directional movements, quiet swimming, resting, social interactions, individual hunting behavior, and the exploration of hydrophones by beluga whales. The overall vocalization rate and the percentage of the main types of signals depend on the behavior of the belugas. We suggest that one of the whistle types (the “stereotype whistle”) is used by belugas for long-distance communications, while other whistle types (with the exception of “squeaks”) and three types of pulsed tones (with the exception of “vowels”) are used for short distance communication. The percentage of “squeaks” and “vowels” was equally high in all the behavioral situations. Thus, we assume that “squeaks” are contact signals. “Vowels” have a specific physical structure and probably play a role in identification signals. A high rate of the click series was observed in the process of social interactions.


Behavioral Activity Hydrophone High Frequency Signal Behavioral Context Tonal Signal 
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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. M. Panova
    • 1
  • R. A. Belikov
    • 2
  • A. V. Agafonov
    • 2
  • V. M. Bel’kovich
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of BiologyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Shirshov Institute of OceanologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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