Feeds

Aussie boffins translate whale chat

'How you doin'?'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that PONG? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.