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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Monday, 22 October 2012
in Mother Nature's Big and Small

Beluga Whale Speaks Says: "Out"

If these whales could talk what would they say? According to a new study not anything we haven’t heard microphone sullivanbefore and certainly not how they learned to talk.

Nevertheless, news that a beluga whale was recorded “speaking” like a human is still interesting because this was the first time it had happened spontaneously.

Training marine mammals to mimic the sound of the human voice is not uncommon and dolphins have been trained to talk. Obviously training dolphins to talk is another feature that should be included in the elite dolphin soldier program being restarted by the Ukrainian Navy.

The loquacious beluga was named NOC and the BBC is reporting he once fooled a diver at the National Marine Mammal Foundation where he lived with a group of dolphins and hung out with two female white whales.

The study elaborated that NOC’s vocalizations caused a diver to surface outside the whale’s enclosure and ask: “Who told me to get out?” After they verified that NOC was the source they began to record him when he talked and then went on to reward him for talking on cue so the researchers could figure out exactly how he was making the sounds.

The noises themselves were described as “vocal bursts” that averaged about three per second with pauses similar to the way a human speaks. The sound frequencies bore more of a resemblance to those of humans rather than whales too.

The researchers know there are going to be people who listen to the audio and don’t hear a whale talking so they added a disclaimer at the end of the study:  “We do not claim that our whale was a good mimic compared to such well-known mimics as parrots or mynah birds. However, the sonic behavior we observed is an example of vocal learning by the white whale. It seems likely that NOC’s close association with humans played a role in how often he employed his human voice, as well as in its quality.”

A Discover Magazine blog is reporting that the vocalizations happened 28 years ago in May of 1984 and while the findings were reported at a conference in the 1980’s by Sam Ridgway he finally got around to writing up and publishing the data this year. Ridgway is still with the National Marine Mammal Foundation and serves as the president but sadly NOC is not- he died in 2007.

When you listen to NOC talk you are listening to the sound of a creature that has passed on so basically a voice from beyond the grave.

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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