Researchers are working on a language and a device that will help humans and dolphins talk with each other.
Denise Herzing, a researcher and founder of the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida aims to meet the mammals in the middle, creating a new language that both humans and dolphins can understand.
Herzing is collaborating with Thad Starner, an artificial intelligence researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, on a project named Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT). They want to work with dolphins to "co-create" a language that uses features of sounds that wild dolphins communicate with naturally.
To record, interpret and respond to dolphin sounds, Starner and his students are building a prototype device featuring a smartphone-sized computer and two hydrophones capable of detecting the full range of dolphin sounds.
They will start testing the system on wild Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in the middle of this year. At first, divers will play back one of eight "words" coined by the team to mean "seaweed" or "bow wave ride", for example. The software will listen to see if the dolphins mimic them. Once the system can recognise these mimicked words, the idea is to use it to crack a much harder problem: listening to natural dolphin sounds and pulling out salient features that may be the "fundamental units" of dolphin communication.
Via New Scientist