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Damn nature, you scary: talking porpoises


Posted by: Andrew Clouther

Alright, I get it, trust me – you think dolphins are cute.  The mammals of the sea.  We grew up on Flipper, Sea World, and the Hitchhikers Guide.   We’ve been trained to believe that these creatures are friendly and nice.  What if that is what they wanted us to think?

A Beluga Whale, known as NOC, has been recorded mimicking human speech.  I know what you’re thinking, what’s the big deal – marine researchers have been training and recording dolphins and whales for decades.  These scientists have been interested in capturing imitated cadence, tone, and intonation which is similar to human speech.

What’s off and different about this case with NOC, is that this specific Beluga Whale is imitating human speech spontaneously.  This isn’t normal.  The sounds NOC is making are suspected to be difficult to make.  Sam Ridgway, marine researcher, suggests that that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics to produce these sounds.  This occurrence shows examples of vocal learning in NOC. 

I’m going to just go ahead and say it, talking birds have always freaked me out to a degree.  Now dolphins and whales are imitating humans as well?  It makes you wonder what level of cognitive strengths these creatures have.  Just how smart are our aquatic cousins?  Will they rise up?  I’ll admit that this research is awesome, but it’s worth keeping a close eye on.  These are tricky tricky creatures here.

Thank for all the fish. Thanks to io9 for posteing the sound clip whcih can be found below.


Tags: Damn nature you scary, dolphins, porpoises, Beluga Whales

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