Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are one of the most cosmopolitan marine mammal species with potential widespread exposure to anthropogenic noise impacts. Previous audiometric data on this species were from two adult females [Szymanski, Bain, Kiehl, Pennington, Wong, and Henry (1999). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 108, 1322–1326] and one sub-adult male [Hall and Johnson (1972). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 51, 515–517] with apparent high-frequency hearing loss. All three killer whales had best sensitivity between 15 and 20 kHz, with thresholds lower than any odontocete tested to date, suggesting this species might be particularly sensitive to acoustic disturbance. The current study reports the behavioral audiograms of eight killer whales at two different facilities. Hearing sensitivity was measured from 100 Hz to 160 kHz in killer whales ranging in age from 12 to 52 year. Previously measured low thresholds at 20 kHz were not replicated in any individual. Hearing in the killer whales was generally similar to other delphinids, with lowest threshold (49 dB re 1 μPa) at approximately 34 kHz, good hearing (i.e., within 20 dB of best sensitivity) from 5 to 81 kHz, and low- and high-frequency hearing cutoffs (>100 dB re μPa) of 600 Hz and 114 kHz, respectively.
Killer whale (Orcinus orca) behavioral audiograms
Brian K. Branstetter, Judy St. Leger, Doug Acton, John Stewart, Dorian Houser, James J. Finneran, Keith Jenkins; Killer whale (Orcinus orca) behavioral audiograms. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 April 2017; 141 (4): 2387–2398. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4979116
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