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Pacific Beluga Whale Has a Donegal Accent

25th October 2012
Pacific Beluga Whale Has a Donegal Accent

#MARINE WILDLIFE - US marine science experts have been baffled by a beluga whale whose speech-like vocalisations sound an awful lot like Donegal Irish!

BBC News reports on research out of San Diego into the sounds made by a nine-year-old whale named NOC, who surprised his investigators by spontaneously mimicking what seems like human speech.

Dolphins have been taught to mimic the sounds of human speech before, but no marine wildlife had been previously recorded ever doing so on their own - though beluga whales already have a reputation as the 'canaries of the sea' for their chatty high-pitched calls.

"Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds," said Sam Ridgway, president of the National Marine Mammal Foundation and lead author on the research paper.

"The sounds we heard were clearly an example of vocal learning by the white whale."

BBC News has more on the story HERE - including audio of the beluga whale's 'speech'.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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