The Language of Whales

Apr 2, 2024 | Nature, Videos

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are stunning and highly intelligent creatures that belong to the family of dolphins. With their impressive abilities such as social behavior, language, and echolocation, they remain on the top of the marine food chain. In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) technology has been introduced to help uncover some of the secrets behind how orcas communicate.

One particular group of orcas that visit the waters between Alaska and Vancouver every summer, called the “Northern Residents”, are being monitored by a team of German and Canadian behavioral biologists and IT experts with AI machines to decipher their language. This group consists of approximately 300 orcas split into 32 pods each having unique communication patterns and behaviors passed down from generation to generation. By using high tech underwater microphones and cameras and drones they observe an orca’s particular behavior or action as they speak in a series of different vocalizations called “calls” which can travel miles away.

It is hoped that by using AI technology researchers will be able to create a kind of dictionary for the orcas’ language allowing us to gain more insights into their communication methods. By analyzing recordings of thousands of whale calls scientists now have tools to compare them in detailed ways not possible before. With more recordings available for training deep-learning AI machines this will help them recognize subtleties in communication patterns faster than ever before. This ground-breaking study could potentially revolutionize our understanding about what these animals are saying.

If you’ve always been interested in learning about animal linguistics then why not check out this fascinating documentary about Northern Resident Orcas? Not only will you learn about these majestic creatures but also about their unique relationship with the environment surrounding them thanks to the valuable data gathered through AI technology. Find out more about this incredible species by watching this amazing film!

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David B