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‘Sargassum!’ A device that translates dolphin whistles into English

Dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, who has been studying the communication system of a pod of dolphins along the Bahamas off southern Florida with the Wild Dolphin Project for 29 years, has been amassing and using the dolphin’s signals back at them to see if humans and dolphins can find a way to communicate. After some doomed attempts with tools like the dolphin keyboard (uh huh), the team recently gleamed some hope in the form of a wearable oven-size device which produces distinct whistles corresponding to various objects that the researchers use while engaging the dolphins in play.

This device captures dolphin whistles from up to a hundred feet away, and instantly translates and play these whistles back in English. Last August, the researchers picked up a whistle from the dolphins which was translated to ‘sargassum’. Looks like seaweed is something the dolphins are chattering about, compared to the other decidedly less tasty items they’ve played with, like ropes and scarves.

Via Smithsonian Magazine