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Over the years, scientists have discovered how intelligent dolphins really are. We know these playful and social mammals whistle to say hello and even call each other by name, but will they ever communicate with us?

Well, they just might thanks to work conducted by marine biologist, Denis Herzing.

After years of studying and interacting with wild Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins in the Bahamas, Herzing developed the Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT) device, which she introduced during a recent TED talk (video below).

The CHAT device is an acoustic, underwater and wearable prototype computer that divers can use to interpret certain dolphin noises in real time. The device works by sending out whistles into the water which match dolphin noises associated with certain toys. The dolphins hear this and either go for the toy or mimic it. If the dolphin noise matches a word, the computer locates which dolphin made the noise and translates what it means to the diver though bone conduction.


Herzing hopes this new device will help translate and broadcast dolphin sounds underwater, opening an instant form of communication between human diver and wild dolphin. Although the dolphins are fully capable of this type of communication, there are signs they may not want to communicate with us in this fashion.

Justin Gregg, co-editor of the academic journal Aquatic Mammals, suggests there is a potential for a lack of communication in Herzing’s study due to the dolphins’ difference in brain development and social attitude.

As we all know, we as humans love to share our inner thoughts with the world, which has benefited the development of our species and intelligence, but dolphins have developed socially without this need to share. So perhaps we are approaching dolphin communication from a far too narrow anthropocentric angle and are overlooking the fact that dolphins are just as intelligent as us but in a different way.

Looking at dolphin communication in a different perspective may be easier said than done, but then again, maybe dolphins don’t want to communicate with us because of the way we treat them.

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22 comments on “New Device May Open Up Communication With Dolphins, But Will They Respond?”

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Josepha Guillaume
4 Years Ago

They'd say: let me go home!!

Xelisen Isthmus
4 Years Ago

"Stop the killing our family in Japan" they already told me

Katie O'Gara
4 Years Ago

Great. More interfering with their lives.technology always seems to be used for malicious agendas this is no exception

Rose Budd
4 Years Ago

plastics in the ocean are devastating, fish and fowl are ingesting our trash and releasing dna and genetic estrogen like changes from all the plastics, besides causing gastronomic obstructions, we are products of obesity and sloth

Susan Werb
4 Years Ago

New device? Unnecessary and inaccurate. They use ancient language spoken by the heart. Anyone can learn to communicate with them who has open mind, loving heart and high energy.

Juliet A. Camp
4 Years Ago

They have for years!!! Dr. John Lilly

Tori Hanabi
4 Years Ago

"Because of the way WE treat them"? I'm sorry. That's incorrect. Dolphins are a lot smarter than that. I'm sure they can tell the difference between a piece of shit and someone who honestly wants to connect with them and sees them as an equal. I'd love to talk to them!

John P. Rosenskjold
4 Years Ago

Funny we still need "proof" that dolphins are intelligent.

Beth Blenden Kyd
4 Years Ago

I hope they tell us to stop being so awful to the planet and it's inhabitants.

Spoon Somatic
4 Years Ago

To everyone saying dolphins wouldn't want to be near us atrocious humans, watch this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh0v1_2JWMY


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