A recently described population of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) offered a unique opportunity to study its acoustic behavior. The often-inquisitive dwarf minke whale is seen on the Great Barrier Reef nearly coincident with its suspected calving and breeding seasons. During drifting encounters with whales, a towed hydrophone array was used to record sounds for subsequent localization of sound sources. Shipboard and in-water observers linked these sounds to the closely circling minke whale. A complex and stereotyped sound sequence, the “star-wars” (SW) vocalization, was recorded during a series of visual and acoustic observations. The SW vocalization spanned a wide frequency range (50 Hz–9.4 kHz) and was composed of distinct and stereotypically repeated units with both amplitude and frequency-modulated components. Broadband source levels between 150 and 165 dB re 1 μPa at 1 m were calculated. Passive acoustic studies can utilize this distinct vocalization to help determine the behavior, distribution, and movements of this animal. While the SW vocalization’s function remains unknown, the regularly repeated and complex sound sequence was common in low latitude, winter month aggregations of minke whales. At this early stage, the SW vocalization appears similar to the songs of other whale species and has characteristics consistent with those of reproductive advertisement displays.

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