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Study suggests mysterious bio-duck sounds in southern ocean come from minke whales

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Posted April 28, 2014
Study suggests mysterious bio-duck sounds in southern ocean come from minke whales
Minke whale in Ross Sea, Antarctica. Credit: Wikipedia

A diverse group of researchers from several countries conducting research in the oceans around Antarctica and near Australia, has concluded that the mystery noises heard in the area for decades, are emitted by minke whales. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the team describes how they attached sensors to two minke whales last year and how doing so helped to identify the minke whale as the source of what have come to be known as “bio-duck” sounds—because they have a distinctive quack like quality.

Reports of seasonal bio-duck sounds have circulated since the 1960’s, when they were first reported by personnel aboard submarines. Since that time, many scientists have heard and captured the noises, though until now, no one really knew from whence they came. In this latest effort, the researchers took a direct approach—they attached to the backs of two of the whales and captured data for 24 hour periods.

Putting sensors on  is not easy—they’re fast and turn on a dime. Thus it was a bit of a triumph that the team was able to manage to do so. The sensors they used were quite sophisticated, yet small—they capture and record not only sound, but water depth and movements in 360 degrees—plus, they don’t cause harm, they’re held on by suction cups.

Read more at: Phys.org

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