An amazing new sound recording has been made of a beluga whale making noises that sound eerily similar to human speech. Researches were shocked when they recorded the animal at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in California and even mistook its noises for one of their colleagues.
Previously, dolphins have been taught to mimic the sounds a human voice makes, but never before has an animal done it spontaneously of its own free will. The researchers first discovered it when a diver surfaced from the whale's pool asking, "Who told me to get out?".
At first they couldn't work out where the noises were coming from, but after narrowing down the possibilities, there was only one option left: it was the nine-year-old whale named NOC. After realising this, they were able to train him to perform the noises on command and recorded the results.
Amazingly, it not only lowered its normal calls by several octaves, but it also released them in short bursts with pauses in between- just like a human conversation.
Sam Ridgway, president of the National Marine Mammal Foundation, was left with little doubt: "The sounds we heard were clearly an example of vocal learning by the white whale."
Have a listen for yourself to the astonishing recording below.