Killer Whale Calls Analysis Off Iceland and Norway

HSWRI scientists analyzed killer whale calls from Iceland and Norway to see if there were distinctive dialects for different pods. This was the first time the calls of these killer whale pods were studied. Underwater recordings of killer whale calls were made off Norway and Iceland from 1983 to 1985 in association with efforts to photograph dorsal fins and saddles for identification of individual whales. Researchers collected at least eight hours of recordings near at least two pods off Norway and eight hours of recordings near at least five pods off Iceland. A preliminary description of discrete call types for whales from each area was completed using methods developed on well-known pods of killer whales off British Columbia and Washington state. Twenty-four discrete calls were described for whales off Icelands; 23 discrete call types were identified for whales off Norway. Our research found that the sampled population in each region has a distinct repertoire of calls with little evidence of call sharing between the regions. Killer whale calls are an important component in tracking animals in the wild since, unlike visual distinctions, they can be distinguished under adverse conditions, like darkness or fog, and when whales are underwater or a great distance. They are also used to distinguish distinctive pods.

Related Publications:

Moore, S.E., J.K. Francine, A.E. Bowles, and J.K.B. Ford. 1988. A preliminary analysis of the calls of killer whales, Orcinus orca, from Iceland and Norway. Rit Fiskidieldar (Journal of Marine Sciences, Reykjavik, special volume) 11:225-250.