Fish sounds near Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok in Canada’s Western Arctic

Abstract

The sounds of Arctic marine fishes recorded in situ have been largely ignored in the literature, despite the successful application of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) for mapping the presence of fishes at lower latitudes. Polar cod, Boreogadus saida, is a known soniferous species that holds keystone status in the Arctic and for which PAM could be a useful tool for understanding their distributions-particularly during their spawning seasons during the Arctic winter. PAM recordings from Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok (covering 1.5 years between them) were analysed for fish sounds. A total of 44 grunts and 3 knocks were recorded, the majority of which were recorded at Ulukhaktok during January. A difference in the number of fish calls was also seen between months with the highest number occurring during January. No diurnal patterns in the number of fish calls were observed. K-means cluster analyses based on the 90% bandwidth, duration, peak and centre frequencies showed three clusters. Type 1 occurred during October through April, Type 2 from October through February and Type 3 during October. Type 2 calls were only noted near Ulukhaktok and Type 1 calls resembled those from polar cod. These results either suggest different species or the vocal repertoire of a single species. Based on the spectral and temporal characteristics, all fish sounds resembled those from gadids. The detection of fish calls and the apparent spatio-temporal variation following the expected spawning season of polar cod illustrate the potential usefulness of PAM for Arctic fishes—particularly at a time when climate change is forcing Arctic nations to better prepare for ecological shifts and changing predator/prey relationships.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the people of Ulukhaktok and Sachs Harbour for working with us, in particular A. Kudlak, G. Kudlak, W. Gully, B. Hoagak, T. Lennie, J. Kudlak, J. Kuptana and the Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok Hunters and Trappers Committees. Funding was provided by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation (Grant Number 1) and a MITACS (Grant Number IT08405) Elevate postdoctoral fellowship. All data were collected under Aurora Research Institute Scientific Research License No. 15996.

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Correspondence to Matthew K. Pine.

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This study did not require approval from any ethics committee of the University as fish were passively monitored within their natural habitats, with no human interference. Therefore, the study complied with all ethical standards required by the University.

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Pine, M.K., Halliday, W.D., Insley, S.J. et al. Fish sounds near Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok in Canada’s Western Arctic. Polar Biol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-020-02701-7

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Keywords

  • Arctic
  • Polar cod
  • Boreogadus saida
  • Fish sounds
  • Arctic cod
  • Passive acoustic monitoring
  • Vocalisation