Communicating With Dolphins

The idea that we might be able to establish a two-way conversation with dolphins is so intriguing that I wrote a story about it. I came away convinced that it will happen. The only question is how long it will take to get there.

If you are interested in knowing more, then you should check out this interview with evolutionary neurobiologist Lori Marino.

She knows more about the dolphin brain, and dolphin cognition, than most. Here’s a taste:

What’s currently most difficult in understanding the language of the Bottlenose dolphin?

We don’t have the Rosetta stone or a basic understanding of the nature of their communication system. We don’t know whether they’re using dimensional information, or categorical information. We don’t know how they parse their communication system.
We don’t know if they’re putting different components together in ways that we don’t.

Do you think their whistle carries the most information content?

It’s likely. The dolphin’s whistles have been sampled, statistically-parsed and then analyzed to determine whether certain whistle types can be predicted from the same or another whistle type. Results show that dolphin whistle repertoires contain higher-order internal structure or organizational complexity. This suggests their whistle “language” contains elements loosely analogous to grammar or syntax in human language.

Read the rest. And if you want to stay on top of how efforts to communiocate with dolphins are progressing, then you need to check in with the Wild Dolphin Project.

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