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Talking To Dolphins Could Be Possible With New Device

Talking To Dolphins Could Be Possible With New Device

Did you know that dolphins are believed to be the world’s second most intelligent animals, with only humans displaying greater brainpower? Still we keep them captive and train them to do tricks, as if they don’t have emotions or desires of their own.

Anyone who watched “Flipper” as a kid has heard the distinct cackles and squeaks that a dolphin uses to communicate. Scientists have long known that the dolphins speak to each other with these noises, and are likely trying to speak to us as well. Only we don’t understand that particular language. If we could, it could be a big step toward finding out just how smart they really are. Good thing scientists are hard at work creating a device that might do just that.

A team from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, working with colleagues from tech company Fusion, Inc., have created an underwater speaker (pictured below) that’s capable of playing back the dolphin’s entire acoustic range. The device not only produces the dolphins’ low-frequency sub-20 kiloHertz sounds, which can be mimicked and heard by humans, but also the high-frequency sounds we can’t hear, which go up to 150 kHz.

Dolphin Speaker

“The next step is to faithfully playback the original sounds of the dolphins by using the dolphin speaker. Once the dolphin speaker is completed it will enable us to playback a variety of dolphin sounds to dolphins, which will help to broaden the research of their acoustic abilities,” said Tokyo University grad student Yuka Mishima.

The team hopes that noting dolphin responses to different collections of sounds will help them interpret meaning behind this mysterious language, and maybe someday lead to a conversation between the world’s two smartest creatures. If successful, however, the team from Tokyo is likely to get an earful, since Japan allows the hunting and slaughtering dolphins for their meat.

Related Reading:

Dolphin Society Investigated In Major Study

Scientists Link Mass Dolphin Deaths To BP Oil Spill

Help Shut Down The World’s Smallest Dolphin Tank

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Top image via Thinkstock

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71 comments

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6:01PM PDT on May 25, 2012

I always knew dolphins were intelligent but I wasn't aware just how smart they are....it's heart wrenching to see them in "shows" and anywhere except where they belong - in the wild.

7:29AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Ironic that Tokyo is researching dolphin intelligence while at the same time the Japanese are involved in a horrific and brutal massacre of dolphin families.

12:19AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Thank you. It would be great to communicate with them and understand their language. I hope that the information would be used only for good purposes.

11:47PM PDT on May 21, 2012

When we can start to communicate with a variety of animals, we will learn just how lacking our knowledge truly is.

8:53PM PDT on May 21, 2012

striking and immensely intelligent animals. leave them be

10:43AM PDT on May 21, 2012

Interesting. If we are able to "talk" with them we'll probably find out they are more "human" then we are.

7:16AM PDT on May 21, 2012

I hope we do learn to both speak and understand dolphin AND that the dolphins then teach us how to get along better with everybody: humans with humans and with dolphins and with other critters and even with plants.

5:21AM PDT on May 21, 2012

This should soon shatter Dolphin illusions about the intelligence and sensitivity of the Human race !

1:59AM PDT on May 21, 2012

No, no and NO! Leave them to be their own wonderful selves. Humans are NOT more intelligent, although we are definitely too clever for the good of the world. Dolphins live in their own habitat without polluting, destroying or desecrating their environment and they know how to play too. That proves to me that they are far more intelligent than we are .... by miles. Please don't let this happen.

8:16PM PDT on May 20, 2012

Tokyo? Really? Anyone see the Cove? What are they going to say to the Dolphins? "Come closer so we can slaughter you?" Or maybe they are going to tell them to snitch on the Whale hideouts and they will spare their life in return.

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