Wed, September 17, 2008
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Whale learns to 'talk'

2008-09-17 05:54:33 GMT2008-09-17 13:54:33 (Beijing Time) Reuters


There's nothing like a good chat.

And especially if it's with a beluga whale.

Meet Nack - a very special beluga who has learnt to talk.

As yet any conversation is a little limited since he only knows the sounds for bucket, goggles and flipper.

But he knows these very well and and can recognise them if he hears them.

He uses his whistly whale song voice to name the items.

A high note for goggles

A low note for bucket.

It's been so successful, Nack can recognise the sounds when played back to him and correctly identify the objects.

His voice coach, Professor Tsukasa Maruyama says he would like to eventually have a proper conversation.

SOUNDBITE: Tsukasa Maruyama, Professor at the Faculty of Marine Science and Technology at Tokai University saying: (Japanese)

"It is my dream to train them to the point were they can express their actual feelings. And it would be great if they would be able to tell us not only of their likes and dislikes but also of their desires, like whether they are hungry or if their backs are itchy. So the next step would be to teach them a wider range of vocabulary."

Murayama began this research after feeling dissatisfied with hand-signals currently used to 'communicate' with dolphins and whales.

And with a lot more hard work who knows how much Nack can learn.

In the mean time, Nack is happy to simply show off his other party trick.

Penny Tweedie, Reuters.

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