"Talking" Whale Could Imitate Human Voice

Researchers in the US have been shocked to discover a beluga whale whose vocalisations were remarkably close to human speech.

While dolphins have been taught to mimic the pattern and durations of sounds in human speech, no animal has spontaneously tried such mimicry.

But researchers heard a nine-year-old whale named NOC make sounds octaves below normal, in clipped bursts.

The researchers outline in Current Biology just how NOC did it.

The first mystery, though, was figuring out where the sound was coming from.

When a diver at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in California surfaced saying, "Who told me to get out?" the researchers there knew they had another example on their hands.

The whales are known as "canaries of the sea" for their high-pitched chirps, but while a number of anecdotal reports have described whales making human-like speech, none had ever been recorded.

Once they identified NOC as the culprit, they caught it on tape.

They found that vocal bursts averaged about three per second, with pauses reminiscent of human speech. Analysis of the recordings showed that the frequencies within them were spread out into "harmonics" in a way very unlike whales' normal vocalisations and more like those of humans.

They then rewarded NOC for the speech-like sounds to teach him to make them on command and fitted him with a pressure transducer within his nasal cavity, where sounds are produced, to monitor just what was going on.

They found that he was able to rapidly change the pressure within his nasal cavity to produce the sounds.

To amplify the comparatively low-frequency parts of the vocalisations, he over-inflated what is known at the vestibular sac in his blowhole - which normally acts to stop water entering the lungs.

In short, the mimicry was no easy task for NOC.

"Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds," said Sam Ridgway, president of the National Marine Mammal Foundation and lead author on the paper.

"The sounds we heard were clearly an example of vocal learning by the white whale."
 Source: report from the BBC

VIDEO Talking beluga whale named Noc is revealed

Responses to "Researchers Find a Whale Trying to Speak Human (Video)"

  1. Sunny Daze says:

    Simply amazing! A very remarkable distinction to humans and a wonderful hope that will bring science to an understanding of their importance in the world. Here's hoping this is the breakthrough of a species imploring humans to value their worth in the world and to put an end to the slaughtering of all mamals in our seas! Many thanks for sharing. I will be sure to do so too.

  2. Unknown says:

    How amazing!! Such a smart being. They have tried to communicate with humans for so long, now maybe they are good on their way to find out how. I think this proves beyond any doubt that every living being has a brain and uses it (to all of you who constantly claims that animals are less worth then humans because they only respond to their instincts...).
    Praise all life and light <3 Loving blessings to all <3

  3. Unknown says:

    wow it saddnes me to know that there is so much uncared for life and beauty in GOD'S oceans and world .SAD

  4. Unknown says:

    ALTHO THIS IS SIMPLY AMAZING,GOTTA LOVE NATURE. Nature and Beauty go hand in of my latest poems

  5. Anonymous says:

    Humans Just are'nt the smarter beings.

  6. I hope they learn English so they can tell the world to smarten up!

  7. Fili says:

    Wow that is amazing. It sounds like he is singing..

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like human speak as I hear it underwater with the sound of my
    Own blood flow resoundnating in my ears. uncanny ......

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like human speak as I hear it underwater with the sound of my
    Own blood flow resoundnating in my ears. uncanny ......

  10. Anonymous says:

    That Was An Amazing Demonstration!

  11. Unknown says:

    entre le chant diphonique et les phrases de didgeridoo

  12. Unknown says:


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