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Science May Help Bring Us One Step Closer to Communicating with Dolphins

dolphin water trainer
Michael Regan, Getty

Legend has it that humans and dolphins have long possessed some unspoken kinship. And now, we may be very close to actually being able to communicate with them.

Scientists are unveiling new findings at the Acoustical Society of America meeting in Hong Kong that could help them develop a special speaker that can take the cries and shrieks of dolphins and translate them into our human languages.

The speaker would be able to pick up and decode all the sounds the dolphins make, including the higher-pitched sounds that are in frequencies above human hearing. That’s why it’s taken so long to study dolphins sounds since most speakers can’t play the sounds that are such high pitches. These researchers have developed a prototype speaker that can project those sounds.

Of course, this is far from having a “dolphinish-to-English” translator. Comparative cognitive psychologist Heidi Harley of the New College of Florida said there is still much we don’t know about “how dolphins classify their own sounds.” More study is needed before a device can be built that can translate the noises.

“There is still a lot of basic perceptual and acoustic analysis that needs to be done before we can make strong claims about how dolphins are using their vocalizations.”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we do finally build such a device and it turns all they are saying all this time is “I want fish!”?

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