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White whale mimics human speech

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2012

NOC is a white whale that, for a period of four years, could make human speech-like sounds. Take a listen:

“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.”

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.

Perhaps instead of the machines taking over as with Skynet in the Terminator movies, we should be worried about Seanet: talking whales, dolphins, and octopuses working together to fight humanity. (via @DavidGrann)