The story took place in 1984, at the NMMF in San Diego, California, where one day a male whale (from the beluga species) named NOC amazed everybody by making human-like noises.
The first indication
One of the first indication was when a diver swimming with the whale went back to the surface and asked “Who told me to get out?”.
The researchers there were so confused that for a while no one actually thought those sounds came from NOC. And who can blame them? As much as amazing whales are, they’re not known for their linguistic or imitation skills. Yes, they are really smart and yes, they communicate to each other, via a variety of sounds, such as clicks, squeals, murmurs and whistles, but not vocalizations beyond that. Well – except for NOC.
Of course, once the scientists got what was going on, a series of tests began to unlock the whale’s secret. At this point NOC was already very friendly with his human captors (he was caught in 1977 and had been living at the NMMF ever since), so the researchers had little trouble working (an otherwise potentially stressful process involving tubes that needed to be inserted into the whale’s nasal cavities). Then there was the business of teaching NOC to ‘sing’on cue, so that they could record and monitor what was happening.
In the end they discovered the process through which the whale vocalized – he was alternating air from through his nasal cavity. That in turn would vibrate through his phonic lips and produce the uncanny human-like voice. This was a historic point for those men and their research work has been studied and build on ever since.
What about NOC?
He got older and one day decided to retire from his little hobby, impersonating humans and lived there until he died of old age.
Please not that this is just a sample video and not the actual whale from the article:
I guess that whole episode with them putting stuff up his nose was the last straw. Still, I keep asking myself the same question: was NOC trying to tell them something? Something that was so important to him, that he tried to mimic their voices just so they’d listen?
H/T – Source