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White whale mimics human speech

Researchers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation recently released recordings of a white whale named NOC whose vocalizations have fooled divers into thinking somebody was talking to them.

"The whale's vocalizations often sounded as if two people were conversing in the distance," said Dr. Sam Ridgway, President of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. "These 'conversations' were heard several times before the whale was eventually identified as the source. In fact, we discovered it when a diver mistook the whale for a human voice giving him underwater directions."

Ridgway co-authored the paper published this month with Drs. Donald Carder, Michelle Jeffries and Mark Todd on the young beluga whale's "conversations" in hopes that it would lead to "further discoveries about marine mammal learning and vocalization."

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