Whale Talk, 101

In Sydney, scientists working with humpback whales are now able to understand some of the secret language whales use to communicate.  While decoding whale sounds is an exceedingly long process, researchers have identified such things as "male pickup lines", and mothers warning their young of impending danger.  One researcher, Rebecca Dunlop, says she's identified 34 unique whale vocalizations, including sounds referred to as, "Wops, thwops, grumbles and squeaks".  Dunlop stops short of calling the vocalizations a "language", but still feels that their are similarities to the ways humans interact with language.

The researchers have been on this project for the past three years.  They tape the vocalizations from migrating east humpback whale herds as they travel up and down the east coast of Australia.  Vocalizations have been recorded from 61 different groups.  The scientists are from the University of Queensland, and they're working on what's officially known as, "the Humpback Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC) project".

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