back to article WHITE WHALE spent 4 years trying to tell us something, then stopped

A young Beluga whale spent four years apparently trying to speak English recently, according to scientists in California. The cetacean's enunciation was apparently clear enough that it was actually discovered when the creature ordered a startled diver to get out of the water. “The whale’s vocalizations often sounded as if …

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  1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Not surprising!

    "After about four years, NOC’s speech-like behavior subsided."

    If you tried to talk to someone for 4 years and they ignored you, wouldn't you give up too?

    That's worse than BT's customer service team!!

    1. Katie Saucey
      Happy

      Re: Not surprising!

      I don't know about BT, but I found that the whale speech was lot more comprehensible than that of Bell Canada cust. service...

  2. Derk

    What he is trying to say is.....

    So long and thanks for all the fish......

    1. jai

      Re: What he is trying to say is.....

      so _that's_ what those big yellow things in the sky are...

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: What he is trying to say is.....

        You mean those big yellow things hanging in the air, in the same way that Bricks don't?

    2. Valerion

      Re: What he is trying to say is.....

      I'm sure he'll soon leave the planet by his own means.

    3. Aqua Marina Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: What he is trying to say is.....

      Ermagerrrd! Ahm gerna be un The Rergishter!!!

  3. Gordon Pryra
    Unhappy

    Best get those scientists out there to do their research

    I'm guessing their research can be based around "does a sentient animal taste nicer than the normal higher intelligence species we routinely massacre"

    Then they can go on to think about the secondary points raised, ie in a truly civilized world, would eating wales not be classed as cannibalism.

    Then again we have the luxury of some religious people who talk for God giving us the get out clause that "sod it, god them then to us to do WTF we want with"

    All the above aside, we humans have known for generations that the larger water mammals talk, are sentient and the travesty of the genocide being committed against them should be seen under crimes against humanity (if you class human as a thinking being who has a sense of self)

    One who parrots humans is just another pointer to the evils we do in the name of religion, pet foods and cosmetics (sorry scientific research)

    1. Neil 51
      Thumb Down

      Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

      As much as I like blaming religion for everything as well, I think in this case religions (particularly eastern ones) have done more to make people turn vegetarian rather than make people who would otherwise be herbivores chow down on a burger.

      Humans are naturally omnivores so it takes something external (ethics, empathy, philosophy, religion, being a hippy etc.) to turn them veggie.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

      I wouldn't mind, but they don't even taste very nice.

      1. Platelet

        Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

        Dolphin is much tastier

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

      I think human's relationships with whales have been steadily improving over the decades, due in part to our better understanding of them... your no-doubt heart-felt criticism of our species comes across as denying these improvements.

      It is only be increasing our understanding of whales that we can seek to minimise our impact on them. Only last week I heard a marine biologist on the radio observe how humpback whales seek a minimum distance from each other when resting... suggesting that human craft should avoid encroaching on the creature's 'personal space' as well. It is likely that many creatures are more threatened by our accidental impact on their environments than by our direct hunting of them.... Whilst Douglas Adams is being mentioned on this thread, may I suggest "Last Chance to See", in which he outlined in the eighties the plight of a river dolphin (now extinct, I believe) because it couldn't hear past the noise of outboard motors?

      1. Bear Features

        Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

        What are you waffling on about? .... We minimise our impact on whales by... guess what, leaving them alone. And that includes direct and indirect. We need to look at our own species and wake up to the fact that if we carry on the way we're doing, we'll not be here very long. We've only been here "five minutes" and look at what we have destroyed, including ourselves.

    4. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

      Nice as it is hear you bitter anti-religious zealotry (or not), what does that have to do with the topic?

      You wouldn't like it if I used a discussion on the new x86 chips to strong-arm in a gospel presentation, I'd wager.

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

        "Nice as it is hear you bitter anti-religious zealotry (or not), what does that have to do with the topic?

        You wouldn't like it if I used a discussion on the new x86 chips to strong-arm in a gospel presentation, I'd wager.

        "

        We get fries with whales?

        gospel & wager?

      2. Michael Thibault

        Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

        You wouldn't like it if I used a discussion on the new x86 chips to strong-arm in a gospel presentation, I'd wager.

        Depends... how's your voice? Will you be singing a cappella? Do you do requests?

    5. Norman Hartnell
      Joke

      Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

      "would eating wales not be classed as cannibalism"

      The trouble with eating Wales is the coal gets between your teeth.

      1. Paul 75

        Re: Best get those scientists out there to do their research

        Not if it is Jimmy Wales, and that wouldn't be counted as cannibalism, but as a favour to humanity ;)

        1. Thomas 4

          @TeeCee

          Whales or scientists?

          1. TeeCee Gold badge

            Re: @TeeCee

            Whales. A bit steak-like, but not a patch on actual steak. You could live on it, but you wouldn't really want to.

            Given the choice of the two, steak-wise, the cow would get it every time for me, as that's the one that tastes best and doesn't require any tedious mucking around with ships and harpoon guns as a bonus.

            Unfortunately they did not have scientist on the menu in Reykjavik, but I strongly suspect it would be preferable to whale.

    6. TRT Silver badge
      Boffin

      does a sentient animal taste nicer...

      Well, if we could breed an animal that wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly...

      God, this article is just a total Adams-fest!

      Icon: Peril-sensitive sunglasses.

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: does a sentient animal taste nicer...

        "Well, if we could breed an animal that wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly..."

        Not talk...! It's just supposed to jump onto the frying pan by itself.

        Shmoos for the win!

  4. Robert E A Harvey

    Douglas Adams

    "I wonder if it's friendly?"

    1. cloudgazer

      Re: Douglas Adams

      You mean ...

      'I wonder if it will be friends with me?'

  5. Jeff Power
    Coat

    I, for one, welcome...

    Coat, please.

  6. frank ly Silver badge

    Just wondering .....

    "The doc and colleagues from California uni and the US Navy's marine-mammal units (which are mainly staffed by dolphins) have published a paper ..."

    Was it the humans or the dolphins who were the main contributors?

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. NomNomNom

    For four years he had been trying to vocalize "Jimmy Savile touches kids! Jimmy Savile touches kids!" but no-one listened.

    1. NomNomNom

      The problem is that society doesn't take major allegations against popular entertainers seriously when they're made by Beluga whales. The whale eventually figured "no-ones listening and he's dead now anyway, so I might as well stop warning them".

      A parliamentary investigation due to start to find out just why the scientists at the National Marine Mammal Foundation didn't act on the allegations. Jimmy's dead but perhaps we can still blame someone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This isn't going to be a popular post but...

      Since it's legally impossible to defame a dead person in the UK, I am beginning to wonder if Savile's crimes were really as widespread as is being made out.

      News Corp and Trinity Mirror seem to be having a whale (*cough*) of a time sticking the boot into the BBC. I imagine they feel the Beeb deserves it after their holier-than-thou attitude during the phone hacking scandal.

      1. NomNomNom

        it's not just that

        The blame culture demands someone be blamed and the BBC are the easiest target. I half suspect if the BBC weren't around the blame culture would start blaming the earlier victims for not speaking out.

      2. Def Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        +1 for the whale link.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Since it's legally impossible to defame a dead person in the UK"

        This doesn't mean nothing can be done.

        eg. his family could start calling the accusers liars -- then the accusers would have to take them to court for defamation and would have to prove their allegations to prove they aren't liars.

  9. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    He tried to warn them

    Of the Ukrainian dolphins marine terror training camps...

  10. Arrrggghh-otron

    Speech?

    That sounds like a bad rendition of E-eye e-eye oh without any real words.

    1. ArmanX

      Re: Speech?

      Actually, it sounds like someone yelling through a megaphone; he's really just trying to tell everyone that this is the line for prepurchased tickets, and that the line for swim-ins is on the other side of the reef, but if you want to get an autograph from Flipper, you'll need to get in the line over there...

  11. Gordon Pryra

    Whats it got to do with the topic?

    Not sure, does the content need to relate to the topic?

    The post is about a talking whale, which is so obviously the next coming, just the bloke upstairs forgot to which of the races he gave the opposable thumbs, therefore sending his prophet to the worst place possible.

    Which brings us back full circle to the anti-religious zealotry or more correctly, the stupidity of both believing in any religion and, secondly, pretending to believe that people are performing any form of scientific research by farming sentient creatures for lipstick

    I rest my case

  12. Leona A
    Angel

    According to the BBC, the whale said...

    'Get Out'

    which I think was a clear direction :)

    Amazing animals, watched a programme on them on the BBC a while back, which shows that far from being afraid of us they actually seek 'us' out now, apparently to learn more about us, they also showed how they formed a group to round up and hunt fish, just amazing, they are more intelligent than they are credited for.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: According to the BBC, the whale said...

      "far from being afraid of us they actually seek 'us' out now, apparently to learn more about us"

      And all the time we thought it was us doing experiments on them. Sneaky buggers, those whales!

    2. some vaguely opinionated bloke
      Coat

      Re: According to the BBC, the whale said...

      "far from being afraid of us they actually seek 'us' out now, apparently to learn more about us"

      Though their scientific advances in the understanding of humans is somewhat tempered by the unfortunate situation of being published in peer-reviewed journals that then fall apart when read by other whales, what with them being all soggy and stuff.

    3. Bunker_Monkey
      Joke

      Re: According to the BBC, the whale said...

      "wheres me frikkin laser beams"...?

      1. dssf

        Re: According to the BBC, the whale said... Alternatively,

        According to Aliens 3, this is ProtoRipley:

        http://nwww.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20121023000402

        Me likes der KH photo choice mer betters, hahahaha....

    4. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: According to the BBC, the whale said...

      they also showed how they formed a group to round up and hunt fish

      Tuna do that. They circle around mob-handed to force a shoal of small fish into an ever smaller area to form a "baitball" and then individually detach themselves from the corralling pack to pass through the ball and stuff themselves on the high-density banquet. That doesn't require intelligence, just umpty-hundred thousand years of evolving the best instincts for survival.

      A pack of Tuna is more effective at catching large quantities of fish than a trawl net.

  13. Mike Bell
    Thumb Up

    Gets my vote

    That's either Jacques Cousteau on a kazoo, or the next winner of the X-Factor!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Gets my vote

      "That's either Jacques Cousteau on a kazoo, or the next winner of the X-Factor!"

      Are you sure the first precludes it from being the second?

      1. Anonymous Dutch Coward
        Coat

        Re: Gets my vote

        Even though Jacques's been deceased for a while, I'm afraid you're right...

  14. dcd

    Jim-eh!

    Speak?

    Sounds like the noise your hear from the piss-heads in doorways who talk and spit at their invisible mates!

    1. Munchausen's proxy
      Pint

      Re: Jim-eh!

      Millennium hand AND SHRIMP!

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Jim-eh!

      Must admit - he does sound like the bloke who sits outside the library down the road from me all day with a pack of red-stripe.

  15. Charlie van Becelaere

    I'm not sure I agree

    "... this is not the first white whale to bring a message to humanity: but it would seem that NOC's message is an altogether cheerier one."

    How much cheerier is "Get Out" than Moby-Dick's message, really?

  16. Tanuki
    Go

    Eek.

    Poor marine-mammal sounds like he's channeling Bart Simpson.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. tkioz
    Angel

    My best is the first four years went something like "hey dude, hey dude, how about letting me out of this place, or at least bringing in a few chicks"... then since he stopped speaking English at that point it seems reasonable he gave up and embraced the time honoured tradition of swearing his head off while smiling and nodding...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Split your lungs with blood and thunder

    When you see the white whale

    Break your backs and crack your oars men

    If you wish to prevail

    This ivory leg is what propels me

    Harpoons thrust in the sky

    Aim directly for his crooked brow

    And look him straight in the EEEYYYYYEEEEEE!

  20. sjsmoto

    Sounds like me singing while I'm frying bacon.

  21. David Pollard

    Trying to tell us something?

    "Get out of the water" doesn't leave that much scope for misinterpretation. I wonder what similarly imprisoned divers would say?

  22. Amorous Cowherder
    Happy

    "Oi you, yes you son! No bombing or running round the pool edge or you're out!"

  23. Simon Harris Silver badge
    Joke

    Star Trek IV was wrong...

    It's not that in 270 years the whales will be extinct,

    but they'll all be speaking English and will have forgotten how to speak Whale...

    ... so they won't have a clue what the giant whale spaceship is going on about!

  24. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "bloody monkeys"

    "GET ORF MY POOL!"

  25. Peter Simpson 1
    Thumb Up

    Why don't they...

    play him some "Yellow Submarine" and see what happens?

    //maybe he'll sing along

  26. Neil Hoskins
    Boffin

    It's Clearly...

    ... taking the piss out of humans. "This is what you sound like, ha-ha..."

  27. Nick_Healey

    It may be imitating singing snorkelers (!)

    I've just been informed by a diver that those are the sounds that snorkelers make when they're encouraged to sing to dolphins - that's what it comes out like. So maybe that's what it's imitating?

    1. skeptical i

      Poor dolphins.

      n/p

  28. jr424242

    It is just imitating Rob Brydon's small man in a box

    Obviously. One gets bored with that after 4 years.

    1. Joefish
      Joke

      Re: It is just imitating Rob Brydon's small man in a box

      My first thought was: "Help, I've been swallowed by this f*ck*ng whale!"

  29. FutureShock999
    Devil

    Talking for four years?

    You mean a fat, white, semi-intelligent, semi-intelligible overweight mammal has been jabbering on for four years and no one listened? Sounds JUST like my ex-wife...

    (Just kidding. My ex- wasn't fat.)

  30. jungle_jim
    Trollface

    Whale

    I never

  31. Andy 68

    Must be just me....

    I saw the headline and thought I'd missed news of a long-running Ubuntu beta that had just been canned.

  32. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Since whales can't type.....

    He's trying to dictate the modern day Great American whale novel, and it starts.....

    "Bring me...fish-meal"

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No.

    Any random sound will be mistaken for voices is similar enough. Any animal can and does imitate. See parrots. This is rather a bizarre story. Not the whale, the owners are bizarre!

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: No.

      If you'd spent four ruddy years learning to say "Polly wanna cracker" only to find that, when you got it right, you were given something soggy and horrible, you'd shut up too.

  34. DanceMan
    FAIL

    Beluga beaten to speech by singing frog

    "Hello my honey, hello my baby, hello my rag time doll.........................."

  35. vonBureck
    Coat

    How to fool French peasants into thinking that you're English in one easy lesson

    Fa faa fa faa fa fafa faa faa, faa fa faa fa faa fa faa faa

  36. PhillCO2
    Thumb Up

    New world, Order: Cetacea

    I, for one, welcome our new cetacean overlords.

  37. Barry Mahon
    Thumb Down

    Waste of time

    Could you PLEASE add some sort of (this is a joke) icon to headlines of this type?? I wasted time looking to see what the topic was....

  38. Stuart Halliday
    WTF?

    sing-along?

    Well, I can't make out any words from that video....

  39. Christian Berger Silver badge

    It seems to be only able to do one formant

    That's of course a main problem when imitating speech and explains why it's so hard to understand. English requires 2 formants.

    Formants are, in the model of speech synthesis, resonant filters which come after the excitation.

  40. buyone
    Facepalm

    Can't see the wood for the trees !

    The salient facts (as presented) are :

    1)A mammal attempts communication with other mammals.

    2)The other mammals are very excited by this.

    3)Communication attempts continue for four years. (Perhaps they are a bit thick?)

    4)The other mammals do not return the communication attempt. (They are.)

    5)The mammal scientist reports via the Seven Seas Sonar net (sss.) that there is no intelligent life on the earth above the waves.

    Are homo sapiens so incurious that they didn't wonder what the message was?

  41. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    The whale’s vocalizations often sounded as if two people were conversing in the distance

    on vodafone

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