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Discovering the Sperm Whale Language

Sperm whales are amongst the loudest living animals on the planet. They produce creaking, knocking, and clipped clicking sounds to communicate with other whales from some distance away. The length varies from a few feet to a few hundred miles.

This symphony of patterned clicks is known as codas and might be erudite enough to meet the requirements as a full-fledged language. But the question arises whether humans will ever understand this language or not.For this, researchers would have to collect and evaluate an extraordinary number of Sperm whale communications.Sperm whales or Physeter macrocephalus have brains six times larger than humans. They have complex social structures and spend most of their time in socialization and exchanging codas.

These messages can be as short-term as 10 seconds or can last over half an hour. In fact, the complication and the duration of whale vocalizations suggest that they are at least in principle capable of displaying more complex language rules than other non-human animals, according to an April 2021 research paper about Sperm whales which was posted to a preprint server.This paper was researched by a cross-disciplinary project known as CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative).

It outlines a plan to decode the Sperm whale vocalizations, first through collecting the recordings of Sperm whales and then using machine learning to decode the sequences of clicks that these fellow mammals use to communicate. CETI selected to study the Sperm whales over other whales because their clicks have an almost Morse code-like structure. AI artificial intelligence might be useful in decoding the language. Different ways to understand their language are being researched and worked on simultaneously.

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