Whale tail on the surface of the ocean
Image Credit: Jodi Frediani. NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Research Permit 19703.

Whale-SETI: Groundbreaking Encounter with Humpback Whales Reveals Potential for Non-Human Intelligence Communication

'A team of scientists from the SETI Institute, UC Davis and the Alaska Whale Foundation had a close encounter with a non-human (aquatic) intelligence. The Whale-SETI team has been studying humpback whale communication systems in an effort to develop intelligence filters for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In response to a recorded humpback ‘contact’ call played into the sea via an underwater speaker, a humpback whale named Twain approached and circled the team’s boat, while responding in a conversational style to the whale 'greeting signal.' During the 20-minute exchange, Twain responded to each playback call and matched the interval variations between each signal.

A description and analysis of the encounter appears in a recent issue of the journal Peer J. “We believe this is the first such communicative exchange between humans and humpback whales in the humpback “language,” said lead author Brenda McCowan of UC Davis. “Humpback whales are extremely intelligent, have complex social systems, make tools — nets out of bubbles to catch fish — and communicate extensively with both songs and social calls,” said coauthor Fred Sharpe of the Alaska Whale Foundation.'

Read the full story at SETI Institute News

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