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Non-human contact: first contact with a humpback whale

Non-human contact: first contact with a humpback whale

Researchers were able to communicate with the humpback whale in its language, which may represent the first of its kind.

A team of scientists from the SETI Institute, the University of California Davis, and the Alaska Whale Foundation played a recording of a humpback whale in the water through an underwater speaker. A female humpback whale named Twin approached and traced circles around the boat, responding to the recording.

The SETI Institute reported this last week in a press release.

“We believe this is the first communication exchange between humans and humpback whales in their own language,” said Dr. Brenda McCowan, one of the study’s authors and a UC Davis fellow.

The SETI team has been studying the communication systems of humpback whales with the goal of developing filters for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence [non-humaine].

Co-author Dr Fred Sharpe of the Alaska Whale Foundation added: “Humpback whales are highly intelligent, have complex social systems, make tools and communicate extensively through melodies and social calls.”

During the 20-minute exchange, Twain reacted to every cue in the recording.

“Because of current limitations in technology, an important assumption in the search for non-human intelligence is that extraterrestrial beings would be interested in establishing contact and would therefore target human receptors,” explained Dr. Lawrence Doyle, of the SETI Institute and co-author of the article. “This hypothesis is certainly supported by behavioral Humpback whales.”

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