In the Southwestern Indian Ocean, one year of continuous acoustic data from calibrated hydrophones maintained by the International Monitoring System provided data on blue whale calls from two subspecies Antarctic and pygmy blue whales. Using an automatic detection method with a fixed threshold, both call types were detected and received levels were measured for each detected call. By using a parabolic equation loss model configured with the precise characteristics of the biological source, hydroacoustic station, and environment in the study area, distances at which calls could be detected were estimated. These methods were used to define the maximum detection range around each array of hydrophones and the influence of the seasonal variation of the ambient noise and sound velocity on the detection ranges. Results showed that detection ranges were critically dependent on the choice of the biological source's input parameters, including frequency bandwidth and source level. Over the course of the year, detection distances were different for both subspecies; the pygmy blue whale seemed to be consistently closer to the station than the Antarctic blue whale. The distribution of the estimated distances confirmed the presence of both subspecies of blue whales near the Crozet Islands showing the importance of this sub-Antarctic area for these endangered species, especially during the austral summer feeding season. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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