Propagation of beluga echolocation signals

J Acoust Soc Am. 1987 Sep;82(3):807-13. doi: 10.1121/1.395278.


The propagation characteristics of high-frequency echolocation signals (peak energies above 100 kHz) of the beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) were measured while the animal performed a target detection task. The whale was trained to station on a bite plate so that its transmission beam could be measured in the vertical and horizontal planes using hydrophone arrays. The transitional region between the acoustic near- and farfields was also located using an array of hydrophones that extended directly in front of the animal in the horizontal plane. Three distinct modes of signals were observed. Mode 1 signals had click intervals greater than the time required for the signals to travel to the target and back (two-way transit time). Mode 2 signals had click intervals shorter than the two-way transit time, and mode 3 signals had high repetition rates with an average click interval of 1.7 ms, approximately 2% of the two-way transit time. The average click intervals for the modes 1 and 2 signals were 193 and 44 ms, respectively. The vertical and horizontal beam patterns of the mode 1 signals had similar 3-dB beamwidths of approximately 6.5 degrees. The major axis of the vertical beam was directed approximately 5 degrees above the plane defined by the animal's teeth. The near- to farfield transition region was approximately 0.64-0.75 m from the tip of the animal's mouth.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cetacea / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Echolocation*
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Vocalization, Animal*
  • Whales / physiology*