On Monday scientist report on current biology that after observing a white whale by the name of NOC they have discovered that he was making unusual sounds that sounded too much like a human voice. In fact, divers at one point thought it was a human speaking. His unique vocal talents were discovered in 1984 when researchers heard several people talking around NOC’s tank. Once they got closer they were surprised to find that it was NOC who was speaking! What was he trying to say? Well researches aren’t too sure, but after studying his vocal skills for a couple of years they report they believe that NOC’s close proximity to people allowed it to listen and learn how to mimic human voices. After scientist had the opportunity to record several of his speech like sounds they decided to have NOC be signaled by his trainer to make his sounds then be rewarded for it. Although, they did report that the whales’ mimicry of humans wasn’t as good as other animals such as parrots, they did find that his behavior was that of vocal learning and NOC was very good at it too.
After four years scientist saw a decrease in his speech like behavior and finally saw that he was no longer producing his speech, but that did not mean that he wasn’t vocal. In their article on current biology the scientist reported that “he produced typical echolocation pulses with peak frequencies between 60 and 120 kHz, whistles with fundamental frequencies of 2 to 10 kHz and various pulse burst sounds previously described as “squawks, rasps, yelps or barks” . Scientist aren’t sure why the whale decided to stop making speech- like sounds, but they do think that it was probably just a game to him like when kids mimic and play with their parents or maybe it just seemed like a chore to him. Read more at cell.com