Nearly 20 years ago, a beluga whale named NOC was recorded mimicking human speech. While NOC didn't say anything recognizable, the whale's sounds were a lot like distant conversation or a murmur at a party. The whale sounded so much like a person that a diver got out of NOC's tank because he thought someone from above water was trying to tell him something.
According to researchers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation, which recently published a paper on NOC's unique manner of speech in the journal Current Biology, the whale's talks lasted for several years until it reached maturity. As quoted in Scientific American, the paper concludes: "We do not claim that our whale was a good mimic compared to such well known mimics as parrots," but it is an example of vocal learning nonetheless. "It seems likely that NOC's close association with humans played a role in how often he employed his human voice, as well as in its quality."
Marine biologist Sam Ridgway of the National Marine MammalRead More »from White whale mimicked human voices