Journal of Experimental Biology (2007)

DOI: 10.1242/jeb.02618


Field recordings of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were made in the inner Danish waters with a vertical array of three or four hydrophones. The back-calculated source level ranged from 178 to 205 dB re 1μPa pp @ 1 m with a mean source level of 191 dB re 1 μPa pp @ 1 m. The maximum source level was more than 30 dB above what has been measured from captive animals, while the spectral and temporal properties were comparable. Calculations based on the sonar equation indicate that harbour porpoises, using these high click intensities, should be capable of detecting fish and nets and should be detectable by porpoise detectors over significantly larger distances than had previously been assumed. Harbour porpoises in this study preferred a relatively constant inter-click interval of about 60 ms, but intervals up to 200 ms and down to 30 ms were also recorded.