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Underwater vocalizations of ice breeding grey seals

, : Underwater vocalizations of ice breeding grey seals. Canadian Journal of Zoology 71(11): 2211-2219

Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) breed both on land and on the ice. In January 1991, 36 h of underwater recordings were made from Amet Island, located in ice-covered waters in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. All vocalizations were examined for spectral and temporal structure and then classified into 1 of 7 call types. The majority of calls consisted of guttural "rups" and "rupes" (frequency = 100-3000 Hz), and low-frequency growls (100-500 Hz). Other less common vocalizations were low-frequency clicks (3000 Hz), as well as loud knocks, similar to knocking vocalizations recorded in walrus, and which had not been described previously for grey seals. The total number of vocalizations and the number of specific call types showed seasonal variations. The rate of vocalizations increased with the intensity of social activity and with the number of agonistic behaviors during the progression of the breeding season. Comparisons between night and day showed some changes in the vocal repertoire. Low-frequency clicks were recorded more often during darkness (17.1% of calls) than in daylight (1.9%), and when ice cover was more extensive.


DOI: 10.1139/z93-310

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