Underwater seismic exploration use air gun signals to probe the seafloor for oil and gas deposits. A large experiment on migrating humpback whales found that they behaviourally respond to seismic survey air gun signals by changing their migratory path, by changing their social behaviour, and by changing their swimming and respiratory behaviour. Humpback whales rely on two main communication sounds; vocal sounds and sounds generated on the surface (by breaching and slapping their pectoral and tail fins). It is currently unknown whether they change their communication behaviour in response to air gun signals. This project will analyse previously collected data on acoustically tagged humpback whales to determine if their vocal behaviour significantly changes in the presence of air gun signals.

Supervisor: Rebecca Dunlop