"So Long And Thanks For All The Fish": Scientists Developing Dolphin Translator

May 13, 2011


What I did there: I hope at least some of you can appreciate it.

Scientists, in their unending quest to cure cancer determine if the side-show participants at Sea World are plotting a mutiny, are hard at work developing a translator capable of deciphering dolphin-ese. Geez, you could have just hired me. Dammit, I already told you, he said "squeak squeak honk beep" -- WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!

Since the 1960s, captive dolphins have been communicating via pictures and sounds. In the 1990s, Louis Herman of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, found that bottlenose dolphins can keep track of over 100 different words. They can also respond appropriately to commands in which the same words appear in a different order, understanding the difference between "bring the surfboard to the man" and "bring the man to the surfboard", for example.

A diver carrying a computer that tries to recognise dolphin sounds and generate responses in real time will soon attempt to communicate with wild dolphins off the coast of Florida. If the bid is successful, it will be a big step towards two-way communication between humans and dolphins.

GEEKOLOGIE EXCLUSIVE -- A first look at the translated dolphin speak! *opening envelop* "Aquaman touched me". I TOLD YOU -- I TOLD YOU HE WASN'T DOLPHIN FRIENDLY! Oh -- oh God -- think of all those schools of fish. *re-retires*

Talk with a dolphin via underwater translation machine [newscientist] (with a way more in-depth article explaining just how they're going to go about learning dolphin-talk)

Thanks to Thomas, who claims to have spoken to a whale once. Well -- what did it say?! "Next stop, 6th Street". Okaaaaaaaaaaay, I'm pretty sure that was a city bus. And to Ferrous, who made me change the title.

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