undergroundnewsroom.com March 23, 2018

Wikie can say 'hello' and 'bye bye'

01 February 2018, 12:42 | Clyde Nash

Wikie can say 'hello' and 'bye bye'

Killer whale is taught how to speak through its blowhole and may soon chat with humans

Wikie, a 14-year-old female killer whale housed at Marineland Aquarium in Antibes, France, was tested by researchers including José Z. Abramson to get her to speak.

A high-pitched and eerie voice uttering the name "Amy" is quite clear in the audio released by the study's researchers.

"Our study shows that our vocal learnings, even of sounds that are not in the killer whale repertoire, is plausible", he said.

"Whales and dolphins are among the few animals other than humans that can learn to produce a novel sound just by hearing it", BBC said.

"The killer whale that we studied in captivity was capable of learning vocalisations of other killer whales and also human vocalisations by imitating them", said Dr Call.

Wikie is believed to be the first member of her species to mimic human speech. "We have no evidence that (Wikie) thinks she is greeting someone in the morning and saying 'hello'". They included words and also noises such as an elephant call, a wolf howl and a creaking door.

They eat marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales, and are known to grab seals right off the ice.

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In addition to her trainers, Wikie's success was also judged by six independent adjudicators who compared recordings of her copies to the original sound, without knowing which was which. This is thought to be the first of its kind to copy human speech by a whale.

He said: "It's conceivable. if you have labels, descriptions of what things are". In two instances, Wilkie was able to mimic the human sound on the first attempt.

Wild orcas are known to live in groups and comm- unicate in dialects that are often unique to their pod.

Though the recordings are not ideal, they are recognizable, including when she says, "Amy", the name of her trainer.

Wikie was given a fish or an affectionate pat when she achieved the sound to reinforce the learning.

Diana Reiss, an expert in dolphin communication and professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of NY, welcomed the research, noting that it extends our understanding of orcas' vocal abilities, with Wikie able to apply a "copy" command learned for imitation of actions to imitation of sounds. However, because the experiments were conducted above water, the results don't indicate how accurately wild orcas may reproduce unfamiliar sounds that they hear underwater, and further investigation will be required to gauge the role that mimicry plays in orcas' social communication, the scientists wrote in the study. A similar process was done for the second round, but with all human sounds.

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