Dolphin Translator Relays First Word

dolphinsCan we handle what dolphins have to tell us? CNET News reports:

Scientists at the Wild Dolphin Project (WDP) who have been developing a dolphin translator may have succeeded in getting their software to work.

WDP director Denise Herzing was swimming in the Caribbean with a pod of dolphins she has been tracking for 25 years, wearing a prototype of a dolphin translator called Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT), developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Thad Starner, when one of the dolphin’s whistles was translated as the word “sargassum” — a type of seaweed.

Humans have for some time been communicating with dolphins on a rudimentary level. The animals are capable of responding appropriately to commands and learning to recognise symbols.

The whistle picked up by CHAT, translated into human speech, was not a whistle from the dolphins’ natural repertoire. Instead, Herzing and her team invented a series of whistles and ascribed them to certain things — one of which was sargassum — and trained the dolphins to repeat the whistles when they encountered those things.

If the CHAT program succeeds, two-way human-dolphin communication will become a real possibility. It won’t work universally — dolphins “speak” in regional dialects — but it may be possible to one day know what really goes on in those strange, shiny heads.

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  • exterrestrial

    So if I’m reading this correctly, the significance here is that the researchers taught dolphins to use ‘words’ that weren’t already a part of their vocabulary. So the ‘translator’ would only work with dolphins that had been exposed to human contact for long periods.

  • emperorreagan

    This is a lot of work to try to have sex with dolphins.

  • Anarchy Pony

    First verbal contact: fuck you pink monkeys!

  • BuzzCoastin

    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

    • Rhoid Rager

      Got my 11 year old girl reading that. She loves it.

      • BuzzCoastin

        “It was one of those pictures that children are supposed to like but don’t. Full of endearing little animals doing endearing things, you know?”

  • Echar Lailoken

    The oceans will be a dangerous place, infested with intelligent psycho killer dolphins.

    • kinkajou60

      awesome :-)

  • Number1Framer

    Some day a dolphin will be a keynote speaker at a UN summit on climate change before being dismissed as a “Damn Liberal hippy Communist dispensing junk science.”

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