Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

These scientists are trying to make a connection between the deep sea and outer space.

A group of scientists said they had a first-of-its-kind conversation with a humpback whale that could lead to humans communicating with aliens one day.

The extraordinary exchange happened between researchers and a female humpback in August 2021 for 20 minutes in southeast Alaska. The scientists plated a recorded “contact” call that boomed underwater, drawing the whale to their boat, according to a new study.

The marine mammal, named Twain, circled the team’s boat and consistently replied in conversational style to the “greeting signal,” according to a SETI Institute news release.

Dr. Brenda McCowan, of U.C. Davis, lauded the breakthrough.

“We believe this is the first such communicative exchange between humans and humpback whales in the humpback ‘language,’” said McCowan, who is the lead author of the study published in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ recently.

Scientists said they had a first-of-its-kind conversation with a humpback whale that could lead to humans communicating with aliens one day. Orlando Florin Rosu – stock.adobe.com

After Twain reached the boat, scientists released 36 calls from the speaker. The whale responded to each one and matched the interval variations between signals, the study said.

“It certainly felt like we had been heard,” Fred Sharpe, co-author and principal investigator with the Alaska Whale Foundation, told Business Insider. “And we hope that she felt the same way, too.”

Sharpe said in a statement humpback whales are “extremely intelligent” and can “communicate extensively with both songs and social calls.”

The whale circled the team’s boat and consistently replied in conversational style to the “greeting signal,” according to a SETI Institute news release.

The underwater calls that were deployed came from a handful of whales that were recorded a day before the encounter with Twain, who was also recorded, the outlet reported.

“We might’ve been playing back her own ‘hello’ to her,” Sharpe quipped.

Laurance Doyle, an investigator at the SETI Institute and coauthor of the paper, said the implications of the study were out of this world.

“It certainly felt like we had been heard,” Fred Sharpe, co-author and principal investigator with the Alaska Whale Foundation, said. Jodi Frediani

Doyle explained to Business Insider that the whale’s actions might be an indicator of how alien races could make contact with the people. It’s similar to how Antarctica is studied as a proxy for Mars.

It’s similar to how Antarctica is studied as a proxy for Mars.

“Because of current limitations on technology, an important assumption of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is that extraterrestrials will be interested in making contact and so target human receivers,” Doyle said, according to the SETI press release. “This important assumption is certainly supported by the behavior of humpback whales.”

Dr. Brenda McCowan (left) said she believes “this is the first such communicative exchange between humans and humpback whales in the humpback ‘language.’” Jodi Frediani

Doyle and SETI co-workers are teaming up with UC Davis and Alaska Whale Foundation staffers to make filters that could help them find inhabits from another planet. Doyle told Business Insider researchers don’t want to miss any potential signals aliens are using in an attempt to contact people.

“There are diverse intelligences on this planet, and by studying them, we can better understand what an alien intelligence might be like because they’re not going to be exactly like ours,” McCowan told the outlet. 

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