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Name: Monroe
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Can dolphins really talk to people like on SEA Quest?

I assume you've seen the series premiere episode? As far as I know, the technology isn't yet available to translate dolphin signals (which are often NOT in the audible range of human hearing) to English... This would require already KNOWING their language structure, or having a computer which could make the analogies between the signals and the words that we cannot. However, it is somewhat possible to communicate to trained dolphins by teaching them a sign language (with real signs) which correspond to certain concepts. We can tell them what we want by showing them the signs appropriate to the message, and they can tell us what they want by pointing to symbols on a board displaying the signs they know and understand. So far, most of the messages have been less on the order of the wisdom of the ages, and more geared toward the general attitude of "Give us some more free food."


Dolphins have the ability to make all sorts of sounds, many of which I'm sure you've heard on "Sea Quest", however, we don't know for sure if they are trying to "talk" to us, and if they are, we can't as yet understand their language any better than we do the bark of a dog. For a little more information on how we communicate with both dolphins and dogs, please see the archive of biology questions and answers.

Tom F Ihde

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