The Wild Dolphin Project! You mean you don’t need to cut animals open to study them? Stop the presses!
My grandpa sent me this article from the New York Times and it rules. Denise Herzing is trying to talk to dolphins! Well, communicate with them. Well, even more basically, Herzing wants the dolphins to initiate contact with her, as opposed to her initiating contact with treats or whatever. She wants the dolphins to be like, “OMG, Dr. H! You’re back! GirI, we have so much to tell you!”
The system they’ve designed to get this two-way communication going sounds dope:
The two-way system she will test next year is being developed with artificial intelligence scientists at Georgia Tech. It consists of a wearable underwater computer that can make dolphin sounds, but also record and differentiate them in real time. It must also distinguish which dolphin is making the sound, a common challenge since dolphins rarely open their mouths.
In the new system, two human divers interact in front of dolphins: First they play a synthesized whistle sound, then one hands the other a scarf or a piece of seaweed. The idea is to establish an association between sound and object. Dolphins are excellent mimics, and the hope is that they will imitate the whistle to request an object or initiate play.
Do you know what this could mean? Dolphin Scuba instructors! Or some sort of Planet of the Apes-style dolphin takeover. I’m down with either.
[P.S. Have you bought your super-sexy Vegansaurus shirt yet? They’re going fast!]