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This Dolphin Was Lonely, So He Taught Himself to Speak Porpoise

Kylie has lived alone for many years, but it seems he's made some friends.


Dolphins are some of the most communicative and social creatures in the world. But did you know that dolphins can even communicate with other animals that aren't dolphins? This is where Kylie, a dolphin living a life of solitude off the coast of Scotland, comes in.

According to Forbes, Kylie the dolphin has called the Firth of Clyde (and specifically, the area around one particular buoy in the harbor) her home for about 17 years. He likely became separated from his family and chose to stay in one spot.

For the past 14 years, people have noticed that Kylie sometimes interacts with local porpoises. Recently, though, some scientists decided to record the sounds Kylie was making to see if he was actually communicating with the porpoises as opposed to just playing or swimming with them.

As the BBC reported, Mel Consentino, a Ph.D. student at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, recorded the specific sounds that Kylie made and compared them to porpoise noises.

Dolphins communicate through clicking sounds. Specifically, according to the Dolphin Communication Project, dolphins use vocal signals in two forms: pulsed sounds and and pure tones — to us, these are things that sound like whistles, chirps and screams.

Through analyzing Kylie's vocal signals, which should usually be at about 100 KHz (kilohertz), Consentino discovered Kylie was making sounds that were closer to the level at which porpoises make sounds (about 130 KHz).

Though Consentino told BBC there is more work to be done to see if Kylie is, in fact, truly communicating in an effective way with the porpoises, the research found already is particularly interesting.

"We want to see whether he is imitating the porpoises, like when we bark back at a dog or there is something else going on," Consentino said.

Dolphins and porpoises are frequently grouped together as the same animal, but they do share more differences along with the frequency at which they emit sound waves.

As previously reported by Azula, the most notable way that dolphins and porpoises differ is their face.

Dolphins are known for their long, pointy, beak-like noses.

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A porpoise's face is more rounded — closer to what we think of as a whale's face.

Fins are another main difference between the two. Dolphin fins tend to have a bit of a hook or curve to it, while a porpoise's is smaller and more triangular.

Despite their differences, though, a shared living environment obviously makes for a reason to communicate — and it seems that Kylie may be adapting her communication habits to do just that.

Add your name right now to make a difference for dolphins, whales and other marine mammals with Oceana.

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