"Come on! Let's go!"-Elvar Dolphin

Dolphin Communication Research by EARTHTRUST

The collaboration between members of the Lilly team and Dr. Ken Marten of Earthtrust continues to achieve results. Dr. Marten, one of the principal scientists creditted with proving self-awareness in bottlenose dolphins, has headed a laboratory at Sea Life Park Hawaii for over 10 years, using an underwater touchscreen computer, worked by the dolphins, in the experiments.

Recent accoustical analysis programming has produced software that can recognize specific dolphin whistles. Each whistle has been assigned to a specific english nouns, all with a specific physical example there at the lab. The first words are "ball", "barrel" (also known as 'bucket' to some humans), "leaf", and "disk".

Evidence is now being recorded that the dolphins are associating the "correct" whistles with the objects. There is additional evidence that the dolphins are understanding the concepts, not just the spcific case (a dolphin was recorded whistling the "ball" whistle while a different ball, was being displayed). The next steps are to continue to test and confirm these previous results; expand the whistle/word vocabulary, and, when this is solid, introduce adjectives into the experiment.

Two separate sonograms are taken, the dolphin tank hydrophone, and the computer direct. This allows one to confirm what sounds we are making, and what sounds are indeed the the dolphins'. If data appears on both screens, it is a computer generated sound.

Here, Niele Dolphin is observing the leaf on screen, listening to the computer generated "leaf" whistle.