The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on January 31, 2018

This killer whale trying to say ‘Hello’ in English is the best thing

This killer whale trying to say ‘Hello’ in English is the best thing
Alejandro Tauber
Story by

Alejandro Tauber

Former Editor-in-Chief, TNW

Rarely, very rarely, the internet can still make a human deleriously happy. Today is such a day, thanks to research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Earlier this week, researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile published their results of trying to teach a killer whale to speak human.

The goal of the training was to establish how well killer whales are able to copy new sounds. That ability would support the observation that different orca pods can have different ‘dialects’ that they learn directly from each other.

Their huge aquatic guinea pig was called Wikie, a 14-year-old killer whale kept by the Marineland Aquarium in Antibes, France. Wikie had previously been trained to understand when to copy behavior or sounds.

Now for the kicker. After trying out some other killer whale vocalizations, the researchers also got Wikie to copy a few human made sounds – words, even.

And thanks to the beauty of online publishing, we can all listen to how she did. It’s amazing and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t listen to them.

Here’s Wikie trying to say ‘hello’:

This is her succesfully imitating a fart:

And my personal favorite, Wikie attempting to count ‘one, two, three’:

You’re welcome.

Read the whole paper if you’re interested, and listen to more recordings here.