Killer Whales Talking to Their TrainersKeith
Killer Whales Can Talk?
Whales are known for their good communications skills which allow pods to ‘talk’ to each other through clicks and singing, even when they are up to 100 miles away from each other.
But a new experiment has shown the creatures are also apparently capable of copying human speech, a feat that was previously believed to be limited to primates, birds, elephants, dolphins and seals.
Scientists say they have taped a killer whale named Wikie speaking the words ‘hello’ and ‘bye bye’, counting up to three, and even saying the name of her trainer which is ‘Amy.’
The 14-year-old orca resides in Marineland at Antibes, France, and is the first in the world ever recorded by scientists supposedly saying human words.
The achievement is even more remarkable because whales do not have the same vocal ability as humans having evolved to make their own sounds underwater. While humans use the larynx to speak, whales produce sounds through their nasal passages or blow hole using bursts of air.
In the new trial, Wikie was trained to understand a ‘copy’ signal then invited to repeat 11 completely new sounds given by her trainer. They included words and also noises such as an elephant call, a wolf howl and a creaking door.
Wikie was given a fish or an affectionate pat when she achieved the sound to reinforce the learning. Six judges were then asked to rate whether the vocalisation matched the original word or noise.