[whale sound] Maybe you've heard that sound. It's an Orca, a killer whale. We know that whales have a kind of language. Families and closely related groups even share dialects.
Are they letting members of the pod know where the food is, crooning a romantic ballad to a potential mate, or something else altogether? That's what researchers want to know--and where citizen scientists come in.
The first step in understanding whale talk is cataloging the calls. You might organize your messy drawer by matching up the socks--at our website, citizen scientists can match up the whale calls. You listen to an uncategorized call [sound] then find one that it sounds like it [similar sound].
So far, more than 5,000 volunteers have matched 100,000 calls. That effort would have taken professionals years. The data will help answer questions like: How many kinds of calls do whales make? And: What does the number of calls say about intelligence? The studies will also help researchers develop guidelines to reduce the impact of man-made sounds on marine life. To lend us your ears, just go to whale.scientificamerican.com
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]