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The Language of Whales

May 25, 2021

Are the sounds and acoustic signals whales make similar to human language? Biologists agree the animals communicate with one another.

Global Ideas küssende Tiere Schwertwale
Image: picture-alliance/Anka Agency/G. Lacz

This film takes a journey into the depths of the oceans to decipher the language of the orcas using AI.

Orca Wale
Image: Public Domain

Killer whales live in small pods. Within these family groups they communicate with one another using their own sound dialects. With the help of artificial intelligence, scientists are now looking for repeated patterns which would indicate that orcas have a language model. 

Orca-Wale Mutter mit Jungtier
Image: picture-alliance/empics/Center for Whale Research/Katie Jones

A team of researchers headed by Professor Elmar Noeth and Rachael Cheng from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg spent three years collecting data on the movements and vocalization of various orca pods in the Pacific. Their aim was to investigate a possible connection between the patterns of the killer whales‘ calls and their behavior. Using special microphones, they captured the underwater sounds and behaviors of these marine mammals. Then they tried to determine the whales‘ position and classify their calls. It’s a first step towards solving the mysteries of whale song. 

Using artificial intelligence to decipher unfamiliar communications systems is not without its difficulties. However, it’s already clear that AI will transform our ideas about highly communicative species in the coming years. 

Broadcasting Hours: 

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FRI 04.06.2021 – 01:15 UTC
FRI 04.06.2021 – 04:15 UTC
SAT 05.06.2021 – 15:15 UTC
SUN 06.06.2021 – 19:15 UTC
MON 07.06.2021 – 09:15 UTC

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