In-air acoustic repertoire and associated behaviour of wild juvenile crabeater seals during rehabilitation

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2022
Authors:Shabangu, Hofmeyr, Probert, Connan, Buhrmann, Gridley
Date Published:Aug-18-2022
ISSN:0952-4622, 2165-0586

In-air sounds of pinnipeds are important for interactions with conspecifics and threat displays. However, little is known about the in-air acoustic repertoire and associated behaviour of crabeater seals Lobodon carcinophaga. We investigated the in-air acoustic repertoire and associated behaviour of two male and one female wild juvenile crabeater seals that beached separately, and were rehabilitated in Durban and Gqeberha, South Africa. In-air sounds were visually identified and categorised into five classes validated via random forest model classification: brief, intermediate, and long moan calls, croaks, and hisses. Hisses were common (n = 25,105 sounds from 136 hrs of acoustic recordings) and detected during heightened arousal states and interactions with animal care staff and a conspecific. Furthermore, hisses were also recorded in low arousal states during exhalation. Moan calls (n = 241) were only detected from two of the three seals. During rehabilitation, the female seal ceased producing moan calls and later produced a series of croaks (n = 204). Acoustic characteristics of in-air moan calls differed from published underwater moan calls according to duration, minimum, and maximum frequencies, and pulse repetition rate. Our study shows that the in-air acoustic repertoire and associated behaviour of these Antarctic seals are dynamic, vary inter-individually and are context dependent.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith