Whales Can Talk

learned May 2nd, 2021
Science
Whale
Nature

It's pretty easy to look around and see how incredible nature is. Thinking about the evolution of the creatures around is us breathtaking.

In the late 1970s, the United States Navy captured six beluga whales. They were to be trained to help the Navy complete various missions in water that required the use of sonar. This alone is kind of mind blowing if you ask me.

After spending quite a few years in captivity, one beluga, Noc (no-see), ended up creating vocalizations that mimicked human speech. Not only did Noc make sounds similar to English words, the words were in a frequency that matched those of humans. This frequency, 200 to 300 hertz, is several octaves lower than the usual frequency for these whales. Noc's only ever made human vocal imitations when he was around people or alone. When with other whales, he would sound as you'd expect a whale to sound.

It's incredible to see how adaptable these creatures are. There's no doubt they are highly intelligent. There's a lot we can learn from them, preferably outside of captivity.


Further Reading: The Story of One Whale Who Tried to Bridge the Linguistic Divide Between Animals and Humans