I have been reading about the diel patterns of vocalizing whales. Some baleen whales have been found to increase calling at night: blue whales (Stafford et al., 2005; Wiggins et al., 2005), North Pacific right whale (Munger et al. 2005), and humpback whales (Au et al 2000) to name a few.

Hypotheses which are related to mating, territory defense, foraging, sensing the environment, or a combination of these functions, among others. However, these whales still produce the calls during the daytime, just at lower rates.

Are there any marine animals that produce a unique vocalization only at nighttime (and not in the daytime)?

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    Also, I always feel like I also need to apologize for knowing squat about fish vocalizations. Because I feel like answers to many of my questions are: fish. Jul 19 at 19:32
  • It's how I feel about the marine mammal questions as a terrestrially-based person! :) Jul 19 at 19:40

3 Answers 3


A marine mammal that comes to mind is the Cross Seamount beaked whale (BWC). It produces a very unique echolocation click that has only been detected at night, both on towed arrays and bottom-mounted recorders, near Cross Seamount and around the Hawaiian Islands. Hence, no visual observations. All we know is that it's a beaked whale of some kind.


Ocean fish species commonly have a very specific time of day that they chorus (e.g. only for 1 hour) and this is often primarily at night or during crepuscular periods (dawn and dusk). Here's one example in the literature:

Rice, AN , Soldevilla, MS, Quinlan, JA. 2017. Nocturnal patterns in fish chorusing off the coasts of Georgia and eastern Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science. 93(2):455-474. https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2016.1043

I don't know that this means they don't/can't ever produce the calls during the daytime though.


Sort of answering your question - the time of day at which a vocalization is produced can also indicate the activity of the whale...

Take for example, this paper:

William K. Oestreich, James A. Fahlbusch, David E. Cade, John Calambokidis, Tetyana Margolina, John Joseph, Ari S. Friedlaender, Megan F. McKenna, Alison K. Stimpert, Brandon L. Southall, Jeremy A. Goldbogen, John P. Ryan. (2020). "Animal-Borne Metrics Enable Acoustic Detection of Blue Whale Migration", Current Biology, Volume 30(23): 4773-4779.e3, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.08.105.

Whereby PAM and movement data from blue whales revealed that "foraging blue whales sing primarily at night, whereas migratory whales sing primarily during the day." This is an awesome discovery for their conservation and mgmt, as it enables monitors to effectively acoustically detect large scale transitions in behavior.

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