An orca whale named Wikie has been taught to mimic human words, making her the first speaking whale ever.
Wikie, an orca whale at Marineland Aquarium in Antibes, France, may be the first whale to have ever been taught to mimic human speech. Through training, Wikie has learned how to say “hello,” “bye bye,” “one, two, three,” and her trainer’s name, Amy.
It’s rare for mammals to be able to learn to make a particular sound just by hearing it. In fact, aside from humans, whales and dolphins are some of the only mammals to have this capability.
Researchers set out to test the orca whale’s ability to learn and make sounds. They worked with Wikie and taught her to mimic human words by “speaking” through her blowhole. They discovered that Wikie was capable of both learning and mimicking these noises.
See Wikie’s talking talents in the video below.
In the wild, different orca whale pods have different dialects. It’s been hypothesized that members of each pod learn to “speak” by listening to each other and mimicking the sounds. Wikie’s ability to learn human words suggests that this learning method may be similar to how whales learn to converse in the wild.
Though the research is promising, scientists have only worked with one whale – Wikie – so additional testing would need to be performed with other whales. It’s possible that Wikie is unusually talented or more sensitive to human interaction, so it’s too early to make a statement about the talents of all orca whales.
But as for Wikie? Well, she just might be the world’s first talking whale.
What do you think of this experiment? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
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