Feeds

Aussie boffins translate whale chat

'How you doin'?'

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Aussie boffins have been eavesdropping on our underwater cousin the humpback whale, and think they've managed to decode a bit of what the swimming mammals are saying to each other.

According to Reuters, the researchers have clearly identified the sounds of a mother issuing a warning to her calf, and of a male trying his luck with the ladies. The team identified plenty of other sounds, some of which seem to have multiple meanings, but found that others, like the warning and the come-on, were much more specific.

The University of Queensland researchers were working as part of the Humpback Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC) project. They conducted the research over a three-year span, tracking the whales as they travelled along the east coast of Australia.

They recorded the whale chat on microphones attached to buoys along the coast. In total, the researchers recorded 660 sounds from 61 distinct groups of whales. From these, they identified at least 34 separate types of calls, more than three times the number they were expecting.

Researcher Rebecca Dunlop told the news agency: "I was expecting to find maybe 10 different social vocalisations, but in actual fact found 34. It's just such a wide, varied repertoire."

She added: "Its quite fascinating that they're obviously marine mammals, they've been separated from terrestrial mammals for a long, long, long time, but yet still seem to be following the same basic communication system."

Dunlop said that an amorous male making advances towards a female made a purring sound, while a mother warning of danger emitted a high pitched "wop" noise. High-pitched wails and screams indicated males disagreeing over who should escort which female, Dunlop said, adding that the arguments got quite loud. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.