Researchers engaged in a groundbreaking study on whale communication recently conducted a 20-minute "conversation" with an Alaskan humpback, marking the first documented communicative exchange between humans and whales in the humpback "language,” according to sources.
The collaboration involved scientists from the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), the University of California, Davis and the Alaska Whale Foundation.
Dr. Fred Sharpe of the Alaska Whale Foundation highlighted the intelligence and intricate social systems of humpback whales, noting their ability to create tools and communicate through songs and social calls.
The team's objective extended beyond marine life research; they aimed to apply the mechanisms of whale language to develop filters for decoding potential extraterrestrial messages.
The SETI Institute released a statement likening the study to using Antarctica as a proxy for Mars, indicating that understanding terrestrial non-human communication could aid in interpreting “extraterrestrial signals.”
During the study, the researchers played a humpback greeting signal through an underwater speaker, prompting an adult female named Twain to respond by approaching and circling the team's boat.
The interaction, described as an "acoustic exchange," lasted 20 minutes, with Twain responding in a “conversational style” to each recorded message played by the team. The researchers considered this back-and-forth communicative exchange a success.
The study's implications extend to improving the detection and interpretation of signals from outer space, according to LiveScience.com.
Laurance Doyle of the SETI Institute emphasized that the behavior of humpback whales supports the assumption that extraterrestrials might be interested in making contact with human receivers.
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The researchers suggested that their findings should guide future experiments involving whales and other interactive non-human species.
Additionally, an upcoming paper by the team will explore humpback whale communication methods not related to sound, such as bubble rings made in the presence of, and possibly for, humans.
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