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Scientists Just Got Closer to Decoding Dolphin Language

An advanced algorithm listened to the different speeds and pitches of dolphin clicks, and then distinguished seven major separate ones.


Scientists know one thing about dolphins: They love to chat. It's well-known that these incredibly intelligent animals developed their own "dolphin language" to communicate with each other.

Marine biologists have observed some pretty astonishing dolphin conversations of all varieties — mothers chatting with their young, and pod leaders giving directions to the group, for instance.

What scientists have a harder time understanding is exactly what the dolphins are saying to each other. Over the years, they've tried to record and decode the clicks, whistles and squeaks that different types of dolphins utter among themselves.

It's hard and expensive work. Dolphins move pretty fast, so recordings aren't always reliable. And using the planes, boats and human labor to snag those recordings gets super pricey and time-consuming.

Even when recordings are reliable, it's incredibly difficult for the human ear to distinguish between the different types of sounds.

dolphin language media.giphy.com

That's why recently scientists have turned to computers for help translating from Dolphin to English. A new computer program has identified six new "clicks" that dolphins make.

Scientists fed it 52 million click noises, and an advanced algorithm listened to the different speeds and pitches of those clicks, and then distinguished seven major separate ones.

The newly identified clicks are believed to come from various types of dolphins from Louisiana to the Pacific.

dolphin language media.giphy.com

In addition to revealing new information about how different dolphins communicate, the findings should make it easier to study how these animals are responding to environmental hazards.

Factors like climate change, increased pollution, oil spills and dangerous weather conditions all play a role in dolphins' lives.

The more scientists can understand about how these animals chat about them, the better equipped they'll be to protect them.

dolphin language media.giphy.com

And if it slows down the dolphin revolution at all, well, all the better for us humans.

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