Motivation & Objectives

AWARENESS – Estudo das vocalizações da baleia comum para uma avaliação robusta da densidade populacional por métodos acústicos passivos

Projeto PTDC/BIA-BMA/30514/2017

Financiamento FCT: 239,939€87

Início a 1/10/2018                   Duração 36 meses

Laboratórios envolvidos: IDL e IMAR


Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) were subjected to severe overexploitation by commercial whaling and have not recovered their historical numbers. Currently, this species faces a novel mix of anthropogenic pressures, including ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, exposure to noise and pollutants, and possible impacts of climate change. Knowledge of the distribution, movement patterns and density of fin whales is critical for assessing impacts from anthropogenic pressures and establishing effective management and conservation measures. However, fin whales are difficult to monitor with visual methods because they mainly occupy open waters and move extensively over large ocean areas.

Fin whales produce a wide range of low frequency and high intensity calls that can be heard at great distances making them excellent subjects for passive acoustic monitoring (PAM). Yet, obtaining estimates of absolute density or abundance from PAM is difficult because of limited knowledge on the acoustic properties and vocal behaviour of whales, and lack of robust methods to estimate probability of detecting whales acoustically.


The main goal of AWARENESS is to support robust density estimation of fin whales from PAM, by 1) investigating their vocal behaviour and providing context-specific estimates of acoustic parameters, and 2) developing methods to locate fin whale sounds from single and multiple recording instruments.

To achieve this, AWARENESS integrates data from passive acoustic recorders (hydrophones and Ocean Bottom Seismometers), land-based visual observations, animal-borne acoustic tags and biological sampling.