Connect with us

Mysterious

Aww “We’ve Been Heard”: Scientists Communicate With A Whale For 20 Minutes In Her Own Language

Published

on

/ 9429 Views

Whale experts and alien hunters have come together and have successfully exchanged conversations with the aquatic mammals.

In a study published last month in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ, scientists from UC Davis, the Alaska Whale Foundation, and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) teamed up and unveiled how they had a 20-minute conversation with a humpback whale named Twain in her own language.

The scientists sailed a boat off the coast of Alaska and played what’s called a “contact call” into the ocean to see if any whales would respond, Science Alert reported.

Researchers have successfully exchanged a 20-minute conversation with a humpback whale named Twain

Image credits: Pixabay

Brenda McCowan, a professor at UC Davis’s School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that contact calls are similar to a human greeting in that whales use them to call over other whales or let each other know where they are.

Fred Sharpe, co-author and principal investigator with the Alaska Whale Foundation, said: “They are one of the most common signals within the humpback whale social sound repertoire.”

Twain reportedly swam up to the scientists’ boat and circled it. For the next 20 minutes, the team emitted the same contact call 36 different times at varying intervals, and Twain responded to the call each time, even closely matching the intervals.

Image credits: wayne

The result reportedly suggests that if the scientists waited 10 seconds before playing a call back to Twain, she would in turn wait 10 seconds before responding, Brenda explained.

This type of interval matching also reportedly suggests Twain was engaged in an intentional exchange. Fred told Business Insider: “It certainly felt like we had been heard. And we hope that she felt the same way, too.”

The whale expert highlighted that their work was done with a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service and warned readers should not try this on their own.

Twain swam up to the scientists’ boat and circled it, before responding to 36 contact calls emitted at different times

Image credits: Nahuel Robledo

In a statement for the SETI Institute, Brenda said: “We believe this is the first such communicative exchange between humans and humpback whales in the humpback ‘language’.”

The calls came from humpback whales the researchers had reportedly recorded from a small group of whales just the day before their encounter. The group had included Twain, so it’s possible Twain was responding to her own signal.

In the same statement, Fred said: “Humpback whales are extremely intelligent, have complex social systems, make tools – nets out of bubbles to catch fish – and communicate extensively with both songs and social calls.”

“It certainly felt like we had been heard. And we hope that she felt the same way, too,” investigator Fred Sharpe said

Trending