Do whales and humans speak the same language? | DW Documentary

Are the sounds and acoustic signals whales make similar to human language? Biologists agree the animals communicate with one another. This film takes a journey into the depths of the oceans to decipher the language of the orcas using AI.

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. 

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. 

Watch the movie on YouTube.

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