Off-axis effects on the multipulse structure of sperm whale usual clicks with implications for sound production

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Zimmer, Walter M. X.
Madsen, Peter T.
Teloni, Valeria
Johnson, Mark P.
Tyack, Peter L.
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Underwater sound
Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) produce multipulsed clicks with their hypertrophied nasal complex. The currently accepted view of the sound generation process is based on the click structure measured directly in front of, or behind, the whale where regular interpulse intervals (IPIs) are found between successive pulses in the click. Most sperm whales, however, are recorded with the whale in an unknown orientation with respect to the hydrophone where the multipulse structure and the IPI do not conform to a regular pulse pattern. By combining far-field recordings of usual clicks with acoustic and orientation information measured by a tag on the clicking whale, we analyzed clicks from known aspects to the whale. We show that a geometric model based on the bent horn theory for sound production can explain the varying off-axis multipulse structure. Some of the sound energy that is reflected off the frontal sac radiates directly into the water creating an intermediate pulse p1/2 seen in off-axis recordings. The powerful p1 sonar pulse exits the front of the junk as predicted by the bent-horn model, showing that the junk of the sperm whale nasal complex is both anatomically and functionally homologous to the melon of smaller toothed whales.
Author Posting. © Acoustical Society of America, 2005. This article is posted here by permission of Acoustical Society of America for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 118 (2005): 3337-3345, doi:10.1121/1.2082707.
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Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 118 (2005): 3337-3345
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