The underwater hearing sensitivity of an 18-year-old male Pacific walrus was measured in a pool by using a go/no-go response paradigm and the up-down staircase method. Auditory sensitivity was measured using narrow-band, frequency-modulated signals (1500 ms duration) with center frequencies ranging from 0.125 to 15 kHz. The resulting underwater audiogram (50% detection thresholds) for this individual walrus shows the typical mammalian U-shape. Maximum sensitivity (67 dB re 1 μPa) occurred at 12 kHz. The range of best hearing (10 dB from the maximum sensitivity) was from 1 to 12 kHz. Sensitivity fell gradually below 1 kHz and dropped off sharply above 12 kHz. The animal showed a peculiar insensitivity for 2 kHz signals. His much higher sensitivity for 1.5- and 3-kHz signals indicated that this is a narrow-band phenomenon. Walrus hearing is relatively sensitive to low frequency sound, thus the species is likely to be susceptible to anthropogenic noise. The thresholds found during a small test with four frequencies with signal durations of 300 ms did not differ significantly from those obtained with signal durations of 1500 ms.
Underwater audiogram of a Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) measured with narrow-band frequency-modulated signals
R. A. Kastelein, P. Mosterd, B. van Santen, M. Hagedoorn, D. de Haan; Underwater audiogram of a Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) measured with narrow-band frequency-modulated signals. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 November 2002; 112 (5): 2173–2182. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1508783
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