Fin whale song variability in southern California and the Gulf of California Academic Article uri icon


  • Songs are distinct, patterned sounds produced by a variety of animals including baleen whales. Fin whale songs, which consist of short pulses repeated at regular interpulse intervals (IPIs), have been suggested as a tool to distinguish populations. Fin whale songs were analyzed from data collected from 2000-2012 in Southern California and from 2004-2010 in the Gulf of California using autonomous acoustic recorders. IPIs were measured for each identifiable song sequence during two random days of each month with recordings. Four distinct song types were identified: long doublet, short doublet, long triplet, and short triplet. Long and short doublets were the dominant songs in Southern California, while long and short triplets were dominant in the Gulf of California. An abrupt change in song type occurred in both areas during the monitoring period. We argue that each song type is unique to a population and these changes represent a shift in the primary population in the monitoring area. Occasional temporal and spatial song overlap indicated some exchange or visitation among populations. Fin whales appear to synchronize and gradually modify song rhythm over long time scales. A better understanding of the evolutionary and ecological importance of songs to fin whale populations is needed.

altmetric score

  • 13.58

author list (cited authors)

  • Širović, A., Oleson, E. M., Buccowich, J., Rice, A., & Bayless, A. R.

citation count

  • 19

publication date

  • August 2017