Feeds

WHITE WHALE spent 4 years trying to tell us something, then stopped

Startled diver 'given orders in English,' say boffins

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A young Beluga whale spent four years apparently trying to speak English recently, according to scientists in California. The cetacean's enunciation was apparently clear enough that it was actually discovered when the creature ordered a startled diver to get out of the water.

“The whale’s vocalizations often sounded as if two people were conversing in the distance,” says Dr Sam Ridgway, President of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. “These ‘conversations’ were heard several times before the whale was eventually identified as the source. In fact, we discovered it when a diver mistook the whale for a human voice giving him underwater directions.”

The whale in question was a young white beluga named "NOC", resident at the Foundation. According to an NMMF statement:

As soon as the whale was identified as the source, NMMF scientists recorded his speech-like episodes both in air and underwater, studying the physiology behind his ability to mimic. It’s believed that the animals close association with humans played a role in how often he employed his ‘human’ voice, as well as in its quality. Researchers believe NOC’s sonic behavior is an example of vocal learning by a white whale. After about four years, NOC’s speech-like behavior subsided.

“When NOC matured, we no longer heard speech-like sounds, but he did remain quite vocal,” Ridgway says.

The doc and colleagues from California uni and the US Navy's marine-mammal units (which are mainly staffed by dolphins) have published a paper in the journal Current Biology on the amazing speech-like efforts of the while whale, which you can also sample in the vid above.

If you believe in American literary tradition - perhaps based on a real animal - this is not the first white whale to bring a message to humanity: but it would seem that NOC's message is an altogether cheerier one. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.