A man named Berthold Hinrichs shot this intriguing video wherein a pilot whale talks to him as she floats next to his boat.
This video is as compelling as it is charming. Some may be tempted to explain the whale’s behaviour as a coincidence – that she simply happened to be beside the boat when she began vocalizing. Equally plausible, however, is the whale’s awareness of the man on the boat and her intention to communicate something to him, especially given that much of cetacean vocalization happens beneath the surface of the water yet she vocalizes in the air.
While some may dispute the notion of cetaceans being able to “talk”, scientific experiments (conducted in admittedly unethical captive conditions) demonstrate that dolphins can understand and utilize human syntax. This could mean that they, and other cetacean species, use something analogous to human language in their own communication.
Pilot whales have been documented as approaching and vocalizing to humans before, and this activity is not unique to this species. The global phenomena of solitary sociable cetaceans illustrates the intriguing and increasingly commonplace occurrence of cetaceans appearing to earnestly attempt to communicate with human beings.
We may never know what this whale’s intentions were, or what she was saying. But the mystery should compel us to question what we think we know about the cultures in the ocean.