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Breakthrough In Human-Whale Conversation May Aid Communication With Aliens

Breakthrough in human-whale conversation may aid communication with aliens after a team of scientists claims to have achieved groundbreaking communication with a humpback whale. This achievement marks a unique event that could pave the way for potential communication with extraterrestrial beings in the future.

Mariella Blankenship
Dec 20, 20231020 Shares23176 Views
Breakthrough in human-whale conversation may aid communication with aliensafter a team of scientists claims to have achieved groundbreaking communication with a humpback whale. This achievement marks a unique event that could pave the way for potential communication with extraterrestrial beings in the future.
In August 2021, researchers engaged in a first-of-its-kind interaction with a female humpback named Twain in southeast Alaska. The scientists utilized a recorded "contact" call transmitted underwater, which attracted the whale to their boat, as detailed in a recent study.

Conversing With Whales

The researchers navigated a boat along the Alaskan coast and emitted a "contact call" into the ocean to observe potential responses from whales. Described as a whale's equivalent of a human greeting, contact calls serve as a means for whales to attract one another or communicate their locations, explained lead author Brenda McCowan, a professor at UC Davis's School of Veterinary Medicine, in an interview with Business Insider.
"They are one of the most common signals within the humpback whale social sound repertoire," Fred Sharpe, co-author and principal investigator with the Alaska Whale Foundation, said.
As expected, Twain approached the boat and circled it. Over the next 20 minutes, the scientists repeatedly emitted the identical contact call 36 times, varying the intervals. Astonishingly, Twain responded to each call, closely aligning with the intervals.
In other words, if the scientists waited 10 seconds before playing a call back to Twain, she would reciprocate by waiting 10 seconds before responding, explained McCowan. This precise interval matching indicates that Twain was involved in a deliberate exchange.
"It certainly felt like we had been heard," Sharpe told BI, emphasizing that their work is done with a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service and readers should not try this at home (or sea). "And we hope that she felt the same way, too."
"We believe this is the first such communicative exchange between humans and humpback whalesin the humpback 'language,'" McCowan said in a statement.
The calls used during the encounter were sourced from recordings of humpback whales within a small group made just the day before. This group, which included Twain, raises the possibility that Twain might have been responding to her signal.
We might've been playing back her own hello to her.- Fred Sharpe
So, what's the connection to communicating with aliens? It appears that Twain's behavior could parallel how intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations might approach reaching out to humanity, explained Laurance Doyle, a principal investigator at the SETI Institute and co-author of the paper.
A humpback whale swimming in the ocean
A humpback whale swimming in the ocean

Communicating With Extraterrestrials

"An important assumption of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is that extraterrestrials will be interested in making contact and so target human receivers," sort of like how Twain responded to the contact call from the scientists, Doyle said in a statement.
Doyle, along with his colleagues at SETI, is collaborating with experts in whale behavior and animal communication at UC Davis and the Alaska Whale Foundation. Their goal is to develop intelligent filters to enhance the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
According to Doyle, if extraterrestrial beings are attempting to communicate with us by sending signals, we might overlook them without knowing what to look for. By refining these intelligent filters, scientists aim to be better equipped to identify signals of potential extraterrestrial intelligence from space, with the ultimate goal of establishing first contact with an alien civilization.
There are diverse intelligences on this planet, and by studying them, we can better understand what an alien intelligence might be like because they're not going to be exactly like ours.- Brenda McCowan
According to Doyle and BI, the study is also examining the idea of whether intelligent alien life would actively seek contact with us.
"Whale research has indicated if you're intelligent, curiosity comes along with that, and you want to make contact," Doyle said.
The scientists expressed their aspiration to extend similar research to other intelligent animals on Earth. This includes exploring communication patterns in other cetaceans, such as dolphins, as well as observing cooperative hunting behavior in carnivores and studying communication among highly social species like meerkats and elephants.
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