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Dolphin recorded speaking 'porpoise' revealing world's first animal speaking to a different species
Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Dolphin recorded speaking 'porpoise' revealing world's first animal speaking to a different species

Researchers studied Kylie the dolphin after she was spotted hanging out with porpoises

There are lots of famous Kylies out there. Kylie Jenner and Kylie Minogue are just a couple that spring to mind, but today we're talking about the other Kylie.

Obviously, I'm talking about Kylie the dolphin.

Researchers found Kylie in a saltwater inlet known as the Firth of Clyde on Scotland's west coast; an area known to be home to thousands of harbor porpoises.

Sadly, Kylie was separated from her pod at some point in time, leaving her as the lone dolphin in the Clyde. But it seems she managed to find a new family.

Kylie has been spotted swimming with the harbor porpoises in the area, but the relationship between the creatures doesn't stop at swimming.

David Nairn, founder and director of the organization Clyde Porpoise, was curious to learn more about Kylie's interactions with the porpoises and so used an underwater recording device known as a hydrophone to record the animals.

Kylie the dolphin was separated from her pod.
Getty Stock Photo

He captured audio of multiple encounters between 2016 and 2018, which PhD candidate Mel Cosentino then listened to.

Usually, dolphins whistle to communicate while porpoises communicate with what are known as narrow-band, high-frequency (NBHF) clicks.

Cosentino recorded some clicks from Kylie that are standard for common dolphins, but she also noticed that the dolphin was making clicks with eight or more amplitude peaks at the key 130 kilohertz- mark - which just so happens to be the frequency at which porpoises chat.

No only does Kylie click like a porpoise - she actually doesn't whistle, as dolphins usually do.

“She definitely identifies as a porpoise,” Nairn said, per National Geographic.

Kylie doesn't communicate like other dolphins.
Getty Stock Photo

In listening to the recordings, Cosentino noticed that the exchanges Kylie seemed to have with the porpoises mimicked the rhythm of a 'conversation', with the creatures largely taking it in turns to respond to each other.

Unfortunately, since we don't speak porpoise, it's hard to say exactly how much - if any - meaningful information was being passed.

However, it seems there was at least some effort being made, and dolphin behavior expert Denise Herzing believes it's an 'attempt' at communication that the 'porpoises probably recognize', marking a world first in cross-species communication.

The findings were published in 2022 in a paper titled I beg your pardon? Acoustic behaviour of a wild solitary common dolphin who interacts with harbour porpoises.

Herzing, who wasn't involved in the study, said of the findings: "The results are tantalizing. What’s really telling is that Kylie doesn’t make any whistles, because dolphins always make whistles and porpoises never do.”

“Clearly, species in the wild interact much more than we thought,” Herzing added.

Topics: Animals, Nature, Science, Scotland, Environment