Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...

Talking beluga – are we missing the point?

Just as a debate is raging in the US about the proposed import of 18 beluga whales for display scientists in the US have published research which they believe shows that the vocalisation of one particular beluga whale in captivity were remarkably close to human speech.

Listen to the recording and judge for yourself.

This is not new. It is not unusual for beluga whales to imitate the sounds that they hear in captivity. Put ‘beluga sounds’ into YouTube and you will be furnished with a host of examples, from belugas imitating the sound of their trainer’s whistles, right through to an apparent imitation of flatulence.

We also know that belugas can understand verbal commands that are used by their trainers, in combination with whistle and hand signals. The question is, in imitating these human vocalisations was the whale trying to tell us something; to transfer information through sound in our own language?

The research was published in Current Biology and shows that these vocalisations were two octaves lower than usual and were made before the whale reached adulthood. Noc, the beluga whale who was recorded making these unusual sounds, died in captivity some five years ago. Yet, it has taken all this time for this research to emerge.

And what did one of the staff at this captive facility believe he heard Noc say when he was in the water cleaning his pool? ‘Out’

Was that ‘Get out’ or ‘Let me Out’? Perhaps we’ll never know.