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Talking to Dolphins via translation machine?

A group of American scientists are building a prototype machine that feature a palm size computer, 2 hydrophones that can detect dolphin sounds and a hand held twiddler which is a combination of mouse and keyboard for selecting sounds in response. Dolphins are intelligent animals capable of responding to human commands including identifying order of words in a limited way. Bottlenose dolphins have been ‘taught’ over 100 different words by trainers. They can also be trained to identify pictures and sounds.

But most of these experiments have been limited to ‘one-way’ communication that between humans and them and not vice versa. Recently scientists have been attempting two way communication with dolphins using basic artificial sounds. Dolphins repeat these sounds associated with pictures and ‘order’ what they like to do as for example play with a seaweed, ride a boat wave etc.

The present experiment is aimed at understanding the full range of dolphin sounds and suitably repeat them artificially in response. A diver will carry the computer in waterproof case and also LED’s across his/her mask in order to identify the dolphin from where the sound originated from. Whether humans will be able to understand dolphin language or be able to create a bridge language that both humans and dolphins can understand through this experiment remains to be seen.

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