Editorial: If a whale spoke to us, what would it say?

 

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Baby beluga in the deep blue sea – runs a much-loved children's song – you swim so wild and you swim so free. And now, it seems, you may be chatting to us as well.

The news that all-white beluga whales, perhaps the most charming (to our eyes) of all the Cetacea, have learned to imitate human speech raises any number of fascinating questions.

The first, of course, are the factual staples: who? what? where? and when? But the profoundest of all, when we look at the details reported about a beluga called Noc in a California aquarium, must surely be why?

Story: 'Who told me to get out?': NOC the talking whale learns to imitate human speech in attempt to 'reach out' to human captors

Was Noc forming human words just for fun? For exuberance? To show off? Or was he trying to tell us something? Give me some more fish, perhaps. Or maybe, on a deeper level his keepers might want to ponder, he was trying to say "let me go".

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