London: Researchers testing a real-life human-to- dolphin translator have reported the first successful use of their technology with a bottlenose dolphin.
It was able to point out a piece of nearby seaweed to a scientist in the water, the Independent reported.
Known as the Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry device (Chat), the translator uses a pair of hydrophones (underwater microphones) to capture the range of clicks and whistles made by dolphins.
Rather than directly `translating` these vocalisations into human speech, Dr Denise Herzing, the director of the Wild Dolphin Project and creator of the device, has been teaching the dolphins a limited vocabulary defined by humans.
This helps to simplify the massive range of noises made by dolphins, who produce sounds at frequencies up to 200 kilohertz - roughly 10 times higher than humans can hear.
Dolphins, who are highly social animals capable of tool-use and self-recognition in the mirror, use signature whistles to refer to individuals within a pod and echolocation clicks as sonar, bouncing sounds off their environment as a hunting aid.
Dr Herzing has developed eight "words" that use dolphin-like vocalizations to refer to elements of the animals` environment such as `seaweed` and `bow wave ride` (when a dolphin rides the wave created by a boat).