tv Doc Film - The Language of Whales Deutsche Welle January 4, 2022 7:15pm-8:01pm CET
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often stored. this is my plus the way from just one week. how much work can really does. we still have time to are go. i'm going all with what 5th? ah ah, here off canada's pacific coast, researchers are hoping to make a long held dream come true. behavioral biologists and i t experts have teamed up to create programs aimed at deciphering acoustic signals from animals. could artificial intelligence help to identify patterns in the sounds made by marine mammal? will we soon start to understand what it is that whales are talking about?
ah, the coastal waters between alaska in the us and canada, us, vancouver island, are where a group of killer whales or orchestra spend their summers. a team of scientists from the deep l research expedition are preparing to embark deep al stands for deep learning applied to animal linguistics, a computer scientist emma nerd, from germany's university of alang, and has spent years working on automatic recognition for human speech patterns. so can the same methods be adapted to animal languages?
under water microphones, embedded in tubes serve as the expeditions, ears for 3 summers teams of computer scientists and biologists have set out to record orca calls and document whale behavior. rachel cheng from the life nits institute for zoo and wildlife research in berlin is looking for patterns between behavior and animal vocalizations that could help to decipher whale language. i assume they would a very different system rich enough fit into our own her time language. around $300.00 or cars are identified as northern residents, as they spend each summer along the coast of alaska and northern british columbia. they live in small family groups and are very communicative. do different families
use different dialects? and is it possible to discern the meaning of individual calls? here the researchers lower the highly sensitive microphones into the water. the 8 hydro phones can record sounds of to a frequency of 100 killer hertz. that's for higher pitched than what is audible to the human ear. thanks to the network of hydro phones and acoustic triangulation. the researchers will later be able to calculate the positions of the whales to avoid disturbing the whales with engine noise. the research tri, moran is equipped with an electric motor. while visibility is limited under water, sound waves are transmitted over considerable distances. that's why a communication system with loud calls is clearly beneficial.
they're very tied together and frequently irish, unchanged circling and body twisting plaza, log i co location. they're socializing. like the u. s. c. the negative i've been to china and rob and frequent tristan and jumpy to jump on to each other. that sounds like they talk about the plan. what are we going to tonight or cause only spend about 5 percent of their time at the surface, which makes systematic observation quite difficult. the research team uses drones to document the behavior of the animals diving expeditions with whales are prohibited in canada. the scientists are looking for the smallest meaningful units of communication, which whale is calling?
and which one answers are some sounds repeated more than others. biologist elizondo hall examines the recordings. each call comprises a series of brief policies which sound like melodic curves to human ears. each shift in sound could be meaningful. while recording the whale calls, the researchers also documented behavior of the animals ah, so there's, for individuals in this group cure that are circling, there were 4 back there with the male. there's one that i can see out of the corner of my eye coming towards us and the mom and cough. so it's a $1011.00 individuals minimum. the more data available, the easier it is to train deep learning programs, to decipher a whale language. it's therefore
a major advantage for the researchers that over 20000 hours of orca carls have already been collected more than for any other animal species. whale researcher jared towers has been tasked by the canadian government with observing different oracle populations. back in the 19 seventy's scientists here began documenting individual animals as well as their group structures. a white thread entering below here a shows just on off a bad towers has no problem telling the or because apart was the scratch here. and i want, or a want to wait was persistent for at least a couple years. so they are the way that we identify the individuals no matter what population they belong to, is, is by appearance. and, you know, you get used to looking for certain features on a individual killer. well,
the dorsal fans and the patches around the fins have different shapes, enabling scientists to catalogue each of the northern residents. every family forms a lifelong bond. what we're looking at with all these families is that an adult female leading the group and the fathers of their offspring don't play much of a role in that family group. jared towers works for a federal institution that safeguards canada, as water's his former boss, john ford was the 1st to distinguish between the disparate calls of the whales. ford's research revolutionized our understanding of the communication system used by the resident archive.
we're listening to her calls her a clown whales. that's the exciting part of underwater listening as you're getting a window into their, into their life that you would never you would never see. john ford discovered that the whales used about 50 different calls, different families preferred different types of calls. these were nicknamed dialects and used to help identify individual families. when they're missing, the various stereotype signals is simply to keep in touch with everybody in the group. they exchange them, they're constantly monitoring each other's location because they can tell where they are because of their very directional hearing. and they can monitor the sort
of behavioral state, the, the excitement level, the arousal state of all the other animals in the kindred. northern resident or cause visit pebble, beaches daily. we can hear them rubbing right now. they're making socializing sounds and you can hear the pebbles getting pushed around and they just rub all sides of their body just under the michelle part of the b to me only a few orca groups worldwide engage in this sort of body rob. this behavior is not genetic, rather it's a tradition passed on within families of the northern residents, just like their language. back on the german canadian research boat, it's a challenge to locate each family among the $300.00 individuals that make up the northern resident population. the orchestra are constantly on the move in an
expanse of water, the size of belgium. the expedition covers an area from vancouver island to the southern tip. alaska. seagulls indicate where schools of salmon might be. and this is where or curse often hunt 2 calls from the a klan can be heard on the underwater microphones. the team tries to determine the position of the whales come from the left that come from the light. they compare the calls with the catalog compiled by john ford, but they encounter discrepancies. and it looks quite the calls of class and 9 are used by different whale families. calls from the same class should be almost identical, but these differ in length, melody, and harmonics. human
analysis so far has amounted to only a rough classification looking at the spectrums. i'm very sure that we can, you know, achieve something that rival the human performance to well families approach. what calls are they exchanging back home? just chris to record this after a hear the call back group surface. and as or to the from, to turn around the researchers are interested in which group is calling, which one answers and which sounds they're using. ah. so look here, the eye for his unfortunate abode and okay here a lot of places and 23.
so there's a lot of variations. also an interestingly here is that 823 families group quotes with different. yeah. as how people differentiates different land. if we have a lot of courts window trying to trying to touch the programmers use algorithms or classifiers to automatically analyze millions of whale calls in order to compare recurring sound patterns with recurring behavioral patterns. the same method is used to decipher the meaning of individual words in foreign languages. for elma newt and his team, it's no easy feat to automatically filter out the week orca calls from the constantly fluctuating noise of the ocean by matching thousands of orca holes on the input side with the target value on the
output side. they train neural networks. these layers of neural networks then learn bit by bit, which sounds are typical for lucas. on the purple peaks indicate a high probability of having found a whale call. it's the 1st time a machine has been trained to automatically detect orca sounds. still clustering calls into similar sound groups remains a big challenge. when comparing tens of thousands of recordings, all whale calls are sorted by what they have in common. but the cluster is still too crude to form reliable classes. further programming is required. the team suspects that the northern resident or cause have
a complex language system and made and process more intricate sound patterns than humans but how much is even known about the acoustic capacity of their brains? this is telegraph cove on vancouver island, where elma nerd and rachel cheng have an appointment. only a handful of researchers world wide have expertise on whale and often brains. neuro scientists, laurie moreno is one of them. is this an orchestra? this is an orca scar of a cranium, bright oven worker, and lab in the front. you would find the melon, where they do the, where they direct the eco location. and this part right here, this large part is where the brake would sit. wow. okay. yeah. young, human and whale brains generally share the same mammalian architecture. both
cerebral corta sees are wrinkled and complex, but the orchid brain is 5 times bigger among the largest of any animal. and unlike the human brain, the oracle also has a para limbic globe. the part of the org right really fascinates me is this part right here. we have this special extra low called the parallel the flow though it connects feelings emotions and thought and it is so complex in the orca brain. it has become its own low. okay, so that could mean that a lot more of the communication has to do with their feelings, with their emotions, that communicating feelings. communicating emotions are very important, okay, to north of wales, have
a far larger acoustic area than humans. laurie marino's team also discovered a 2nd acoustic cortex now we know that they also have a sound processing area in the same area that we process language based on what you said about how the process owner can we say that we need a much finer window when we analyze so it's not just fine resolution that we need. we need a way to actually to actually do the analysis at a much, much more complex level than our breeze can do it. new brain scan methods have revealed that or cause to have a far more complex acoustic system than previously believed. could. the may be true for other marine mammals that you sound for their communication and orientation
in contrast to other orca groups. the northern residents at some point stopped hunting, seals, and other marine mammals to day they feed almost exclusively on the largest salmon and canadian waters. the chinook stalks of the fish, however, have been declining rapidly since the late 19 ninety's the northern residents have to travel increasingly long distances to find the salmon that still remains. and despite stringent fishing quotas for the species, their numbers continue to decrease.
jared towers from fisheries and oceans canada monitors. if people are complying with the fishing regulations, it seemed to be that once that salmon aren't quite so abundant, now the killer whales aren't getting enough, steve. and so i like puzzles population to go down a little bit. the northern resident or cars are classified as a threatened species on chinook salmon. abundance is low. they don't simply go out and try touching other fish, and they advance learns avenue and, and, and all terrier and pray. resource on they're gonna go off and start showing armor skills. just one, there's not enough salmon around. the substantial human appetite for salmon has decimated stalks to critically low levels. the ruins of the salmon fishing industry serve as
a reminder of the once abundant fish stocks. wild canadian salmon were in great demand around the world. the survival of the northern resident or cause is tightly linked to the fate of the chinook salmon. lance barrett, leonard is a geneticist and behavioral ecologist at the vancouver aquarium. he visits the resident orchestra every summer to document their long term health and measure how their body size and shape compares to previous years. to ensure the images are comparable from year to year, the drone hover is exactly 30 meters above the whales are almost over them. the groups calf is almost a year old and is still suckling from its mother. the social skills of orchids are
illustrated by how they deal with their prey. you've got a species that is highly social that shares all of its food. so they're compulsive jurors. go well, so they catch a fish they'll, you know, one rallied half an added off to somebody else an old bite. and then another one coming to go by the adults sometimes lee living salmon to the younger whales in this way, the juveniles learn to hunt their prey in a playful way. at the vancouver aquarium researchers compare the images from different years. one indicator of the whales state of health are the white patches above their eyes. if there are not enough fat reserves in the neck area, the angle along the ice spots will change. comparing the images side by side
researchers observe a life threatening weight loss. ah, in response to the decline of natural stalks, the fishing industry installed aqua farms in the regions, the remaining wild salmon migrate through nets protect the farmed salmon from orcus and other predators. the predominantly norwegian operators introduced farmed atlantic salmon species and with them new viral disease is not previously found in canada as pacific northwest. these fish farms raise as much salmon as possible in a confined space. it's all about maximizing profit, the byproduct, feces, and germs that escape into open waters. there is growing concern of viral outbreaks among the wild chinook salmon. if the primary food source of the resident orca population continues to decline the whale's own survival will also be
endangered. whale researcher alexandra morton, is studying the new diseases affecting the salmon. she visits the research try me around to share the results of her analysis. i brunson results so my laptop, if you'd like to see them virus or of the virus research where we found it and why are the salmon farms such a big problem for the salmon in the wheels? mostly because of where they're located. so we're, we're, we do a molecular test which basically just looks for the genetic sequence are part of the genetic sequence in the virus salmon taken viruses through their gills. the pathogens that infect their bloodstream causing oregon failure.
when the salmon farms moved in the orca stayed away that made alexandra morton's suspicious. she took samples near the farms which were then analyzed in special laboratories. she examined the organs of both wild and farmed salmon. 95 percent of the farmed fish she dissected were sick. a large proportion of the wild salmon also became infected through contaminated water. the pathogens escape from the fish farms with the title currents and spread to the regions the young, wild salmon have to pass through as they migrate. ah, 200 kilometer is further north. the a $42.00 family searches for pray along the shore lines. the research expedition
has reached the fjords of fisher channel, once famous for its ample fishing grounds. the whales hunt by day and by night. they don't need light for orientation biologist floor and sullivan compares her recordings to known call types and notes down behavior. do the work us tend to use certain calls in a social context or more when hunting. all recordings are later re analyzed in germany with the help of deep learning programs in their search for prey. the northern resident or does now often cover 80 to 120 kilometers a day along hunting routes that have been passed on for generations to identify individual wales and examined changes in groups structures. programmer
manuel schmidt and biologist james field are working on automatic fin recognition software. it works similarly to facial recognition programs. the process of identifying wales by their fins and dialect was used years ago in the famous case of an orphaned calf known as a 73 or springer. when her mother died, then 2 year old springer was separated from the rest of her family. eventually 300 miles further south, the lone calf was found off the coast of seattle. scientists could tell from her calls that she was a northern resident springer was brought back and re united with her family. so while researchers have been able to identify whale dialects for 20 years,
now understanding the language of whales represents a whole new challenge the call systems used by different whale families, change little from one generation. the next springer now has 2 calves of her own spirit and storm, roughly 8 and 4 years old. or cause typically spend their entire lives with their mothers. for the 1st 2 years, they are suckled. and over the following 8 years, they learn what they need to do to survive. another orca group has joined springer's family. together, they search for salmon close to the shore. their hunting strategies vary depending on the local environment. this gives them a wealth of experience that like their communication system is passed down through
generations. their group behavior during the hunt seems to be coordinated. the whales exchange a stream of calls the orc us are still able to find enough food by spending more and more time hunting. for a calf, it's one of many lessons in salmon hunting. for the scientists, it's a rich source of data. human activity greatly impacts the whales habitat on this container as well. sound on the or con, no, the oregon calls because the very ground the sound of passing ships doesn't frighten the whales, but the noise does interfere with their communication and compromises their hunting
ability. the canadian government is investigating the impact of ship noise on marine mammals . so we listened for their vocalizations which can cover a range of 10 kilometers or so. man made noise in the world's oceans doubles every 10 years. one of the concerns we have about vessel noise is its potential effect on the eco location capabilities of the whales. the whale's vision is very limited under water because of murkiness in the water, especially at night. they can't seem typically in these waters more than a whales length or so, so perhaps 10 meters max. in a quiet conditions the whales can probably detect a chinook salmon at a range of route 200 meters. but that might be significantly reduced by masking of by boat noise. similar to bats orchids scan their surroundings by
emitting clicking sounds and listening to their echoes. the noise from ships masks those echoes to reduce its own engine noise. the expedition boat runs on an ultra quiet electric drive and sounds like an end or 4, but its mass in here you have a boat in there, so i have another one. 0, in here the warnings. it's much clearer of. so we have this electrical noise here and 10 killer hertz. then we have a look at the engine just although electric engines are far quieter, there's nevertheless, some interference. rachel chang, inspect the static noise and examines the control cables.
are now much better now. the sound of electric motors is still rare in the ocean, which is perhaps why the ship triggers the whales interest. the boat stops in order to maintain the requisite distance of 100 meters. the curious orcus are not as cautious and inspect the boat and its crew. the scientists wonder whether the whales might use distinct calls for different boats. in any case, there is immense curiosity on both sides. workers are extremely social creatures and love to touch one another.
i think there's a 23 and a 20. i group floating sideway puddings fin on the water surface where others just been going around either jumps also part of their communication or just a bit of fun. many of their behavioral patterns are still only partially understood. this is also due to the fact that orchestra rarely rome, close to the surface where humans can observe them some distance away. another group of oracle suddenly appears marine biologist. ellie's done to hall wants to get an overview. it was for her to go. now, if we could have a tablet site, this is
a completely different type of orca. 020. no. go darlin. unlike the resident wales, these transient or cars don't feed on salmon. they hunt other marine mammals, harry f as in who's those are so no, i don't hear any will call others, but it seems they're hunting. they're foraging. in another contrast to northern residence, transient whales hunt almost silently. that is because dolphins seals and other wales, their natural prey, have excellent hearing. that means they know exactly when they're in danger. the transient orcus also inspect a rocky plateau for prey. it's
a tactic that appears to be successful. 6 0, we hear that vocalize, no. the blood at the surface reveals a kill. the transients begin to celebrate their catch, and no exchange, many calls back and forth. acoustic. they're very different from the residence. you're curious if the closet fire as we pick up the different the homes of the roughly 500 transients and 300 northern residents overlap. but their calls differ so much. it's as if they're speaking different languages, dolphins, and other marine mammals can tell the difference. while they immediately flee from transient whales, they rush intentionally toward the residence as soon as they hear their calls,
to hunt and play with them. below deck m, i note, and christian bag lab work on the automatic call classification. you the organs and it shows here the, the detection of those signal. yes. so you always have 2 seconds. the seconds, 2 seconds. you can clearly see that the incoming so there is an orca. yeah. they will be detected, quote, what i like is that the confidence is so high. so them algorithm is quite sure that it, yes i yes. the automatic call detective works. the challenge is still to match one group of calls with another in human language. the equivalent of these sounds, sequences might be simple statements. mm hm
. the northern residents consist of 32 families. they typically use different call systems, but are still able to communicate with each other when they meet up. looks like the other group is driving them. the calls between the groups go back and forth announcing their arrival in a kind of greeting ceremony. do thing they're saying here, here. if they're so close but no, it's not the same goal. the last time i was really one cold at the, the individual was repeating all of her. i was the same one here do during like or a combination meetings between family groups used to be more frequent. when salmon stalks were more abundant and they had to hunt less,
says via a lot more melodic, the sounds are a lot. we're all of our places are a lot longer. i would say the more complex lay exchange, another series of calls before the meeting, slowly breaks up. the sounds might signify goodbye, but the researchers will need to compare many other similar exchanges before they can interpret it more decisively. when there are thick banks of fog between vancouver island and the mainland as the end of summer approaches. tracking down the whales is more of a challenge. the researchers only option is to use acoustic localization with the hydro phones under com c conditions the sound of the orca calls can range up to 10 kilometers
emma knew it takes the location forecasts for 12 o'clock blunder. it's 300 meters over there, 1 o'clock. 123 or localization is also important in order to interpret the calls is like 2 or 3 year towards re there. and then it's always the same call what we're here right now. so it's probably, i'm here and the other one recognizes this one. 0 friend is over there. what i would do is try to cluster exactly those calls where i'm convinced that i heard the same. and then just from the sequence, one could make the assumption that signal unresponsiveness signal response. and why, though the last of 3 expeditions is coming to an end with dana from a total of 20 weeks, a field research on board. a few months later,
the researchers meet at the pattern recognition lab at the university of al long and in nuremberg, germany. rachel chang has an appointment with the programming team. manuel schmidt has run an automatic comparison of 1000000 calls. i arranged for the do i come and take a look at the clustering? i made some changes and it's a little bit better. oh, in threes here, there it look very similar and that is next with and nice here as well. spread of it. are you still in your training? with background noise is hinder, the automatic sorting of various calls. a newly programmed noise filter increases the precision very well better than it needs. the only difference is there's plenty old foods.
there are still small errors, but on such a large scale where millions of calls are being automatically compared, they become less significant. i think we're, we're at the level where we can run through a couple of tapes now several tapes or you can use those classes sequences in order to find those language patterns like the real joy as less like a semantic structure. and those can be interpreted as a call followed by an answer followed by another call. the new clustering results are better than expected. rachel chang's task is now to assign recurring call patterns to certain behaviors. she compares the new clusters with the existing call catalogs and discovers reappearing matches that might be meaningful. the algorithms have learned to differentiate the calls of different orca families
that would normally take human researchers years of training. 9 c with in the future, this will allow automatic detection of which family is calling and the ability to follow the subsequent dialogues between families. the next step is comparing millions of calls, sequences which calls appear together frequently accompanied by which similar behavior. when decoding human languages such connections might reveal meaningful possibilities, such as sit and chair, or table and plate ah, the deep learning programs cannot yet work completely independently without human control, there could be a huge increase in assignment errors. the 1st matches appear the same call sequences were used in a similar context,
but there are exceptions. the comparisons very so far are not conclusive. so the rab hearing cossick was pointed to the scene, the socializing and i was a find. and the 2nd time this in the social, as in contacts with him, i heard on the same call pat, we expect to find them in the 3rd one also elizabeth or him wars are we didn't find a miss that doesn't this prove it? i mean, there could be different explanations. we just don't have enough data to say that the german canadian research team is not yet able to create a kind of dictionary of the orca language. but now they do have tools to compare. we'll calls in a more detailed and systematic way than was previously possible. and as more recordings of whale calls are shared and made available for training deep learning
machines, the faster it will be to recognize the subtleties in communication patterns. humans have long faced limitations when it comes to understanding what animals might be talking about. but with the help of a i, a new era of research might allow us to decipher the secrets behind their communication. ah, ah, a pulse, a beginning of
a story that moves us and takes us along for the ride. it's only about the perspective culture information this is dw and d w made from mines. oh, a lot. is he she, when i arrived here i slept with people in a room, 9th and it was hard. i wish i even got white hair. is that with learning the gym and language head? yeah. a lot this kids to me and they felt much tunic to and track with you want to know their story,
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