I was amazed to click on a link recently and listen to the delightful sound of a whale saying hello to a human. Brighten up your day and take a listen to the recording below too.
Scientists made the recording at a marine park in France, saying hello to the killer whale. It sounds very much like the whale is politely greeting the humans in return. It is tempting to say the whale was talking, but in reality it is impressively producing recognisable copies of human words. It proves whales are able to learn new sounds by copying what they hear.
As this article points out, they are also leading by example in carbon removal too. While whales may be able to say hello, it is up to all of us to communicate the need to protect animals like whales and dolphins and the ocean the live in as much as possible. I was pleased recently when Virgin Holidays teamed up with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to support North America’s first dolphin sea sanctuary.
I've also just watched the whole of Blue Planet II - it's truly incredible how many fish communicate with each other and work together.
Having been lucky enough to see whales swimming in the ocean, they have always struck me as among the most majestic and intelligent of creatures. Whales and their cousins are clearly capable of deep social connections to each other. Their wandering journeys and their songful communications can span many thousands of miles of the immense ocean. There is also compelling evidence that cetaceans have complex language, including, perhaps, the ability to transmit ‘images’ to each other.
Herman Melville, in Moby Dick, wrote: ‘Admire and model thyself after the whale.’ Fossil records show that whales and dolphins have lived in Earth’s oceans for tens of millions of years. I wonder how much we still have to learn about them – imagining how deep their intelligence may be - and what it could inspire, and mean for our future.
Another animal capable of mimicking human sounds is, of course, the parrot. For many years, we have had parrots on Necker Island who are always ready for a chat. For a time they lived next to the tennis courts, and I was always trying to teach them to say “Nice shot, Richard!” after I hit a winner.
Rather than asking the parrots to compliment my backhand, perhaps I’d have better luck asking the whales to compliment my backstroke!