Biological oceanography, sometimes referred to as marine biology, is the study of the plants, animals and microbes of the oceans.

Animal communication has been studied for decades although reliably identifying animal sounds has proven to be extraordinarily difficult.  However, some good work has been achieved in this area and we will post articles on this subject in the coming weeks. Holding a 'conversation' with another species remains a dream for zoologists and ornithologists but recent research in the field of dolphin communication, using the CymaScope, is beginning to show promise. 

The CymaScope can simplify the complex sounds a dolphin makes into "picture words" that we call CymaGlyphs, each picture representing a dolphin's word for a given object. Dolphins have regular eyes but they also "see with sound" and can beam a sound picture of a predator to other dolphins. By creating a lexicon of dolphin CymaGlyphs, it should eventually be possible to hold a rudimentary conversation in which a computer converts a human word into a dolphin word and the dolphin's reply is then converted into human words--an exciting prospect! CymaScope.com are working in collaboration with Florida-based Speak Dolphin.com in a bid to catalogue the first reliable dolphin picture words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Not Alone


The Discovery of Dolphin Language

Key words: Dolphin, Cetacean, Echolocation, Cymatics, Holography, Language, CymaScope

Researchers in the United States and Great Britain have made a significant breakthrough in deciphering dolphin language in which a series of eight objects have been sonically identified by dolphins.

Team leader, Jack Kassewitz of SpeakDolphin.com, ‘spoke’ to dolphins with the dolphin’s own sound picture words. Dolphins in two separate research centers understood the words, presenting convincing evidence that dolphins employ a universal “sono-pictorial” language of communication
.

The team was able to teach the dolphins simple and complex sentences involving nouns and verbs, revealing that dolphins comprehend elements of human language, as well as having a complex visual language of their own. Kassewitz commented, “We are beginning to understand the visual aspects of their language, for example in the identification of eight dolphin visual sounds for nouns, recorded by hydrophone as the dolphins echolocated on a range of submersed plastic objects.”

The British member of the research team, John Stuart Reid, used a CymaScope instrument, a device that makes sound visible, to gain a better understanding of how dolphins see with sound. He imaged a series of the test objects as sono-pictorially created by one of the research dolphins.

In his bid to “speak dolphin” Jack Kassewitz of SpeakDolphin.com, based in Miami, Florida, designed an experiment in which he recorded dolphin echolocation sounds as they reflected off a range of eight submersed objects, including a plastic cube, a toy duck and a flowerpot. He discovered that the reflected sounds actually contain sound pictures and when replayed to the dolphin in the form of a game, the dolphin was able to identify the objects with 86% accuracy, providing evidence that dolphins understand echolocation sounds as pictures. Kassewitz then drove to a different facility and replayed the sound pictures to a dolphin that had not previously experienced them. The second dolphin identified the objects with a similar high success rate, confirming that dolphins possess a sono-pictorial form of communication. It has been suspected by some researchers that dolphins employ a sono-visual sense to ‘photograph’ (in sound) a predator approaching their family pod, in order to beam the picture to other members of their pod, alerting them of danger. In this scenario it is assumed that the picture of the predator will be perceived in the mind’s eye of the other dolphins.

When Reid imaged the reflected echolocation sounds on the CymaScope it became possible for the first time to see the sono-pictorial images that the dolphin created. The resulting pictures resemble typical ultrasound images seen in hospitals. Reid explained: “When a dolphin scans an object with its high frequency sound beam, emitted in the form of short clicks, each click captures a still image, similar to a camera taking photographs. Each dolphin click is a pulse of pure sound that becomes modulated by the shape of the object. In other words, the pulse of reflected sound contains a semi-holographic representation of the object. A portion of the reflected sound is collected by the dolphin’s lower jaw, its mandible, where it travels through twin fat-filled ‘acoustic horns’ to the dolphin’s inner ears to create the sono-pictorial image.”

Click to enlarge


The precise mechanism concerning how the sonic image is ‘read’ by the cochleae is still unknown but the team’s present hypothesis is that each click-pulse causes the image to momentarily manifest on the basilar and tectorial membranes, thin sheets of tissue situated in the heart of each cochlea. Microscopic cilia connect with the tectorial membrane and ‘read’ the shape of the imprint, creating a composite electrical signal representing the object’s shape. This electrical signal travels to the brain via the cochlea nerve and is interpreted as an image. (The example in the graphic shows a flowerpot.) The team postulates that dolphins are able to perceive stereoscopically with their sound imaging sense. Since the dolphin emits long trains of click-pulses it is believed that it has persistence of sono-pictorial perception, analogous to video playback in which a series of still frames are viewed as moving images.

Reid said, “The CymaScope imaging technique substitutes a circular water membrane for the dolphin's tectorial, gel-like membrane and a camera for the dolphin's brain. We image the sono-picture as it imprints on the surface tension of water, a technique we call ‘bio-cymatic imaging,’ capturing the picture before it expands to the boundary. We think that something similar happens in the dolphin’s cochleae where the sonic image, contained in the reflected click-pulse, travels as a surface acoustic wave along the basilar and tectorial membranes and imprints in an area that relates to the carrier frequency of the click-pulse. With our bio-cymatic imaging technique we believe we see a similar image to that which the dolphin sees when it scans an object with sound. In the flowerpot image the hand of the person holding it can even be seen.  The images are rather fuzzy at present but we hope to enhance the technique in future.”

Dr Horace Dobbs is Director of International Dolphin Watch and a leading authority on dolphin-assisted therapy. “I find the dolphin mechanism for sonic imaging proposed by Jack Kassewitz and John Stuart Reid plausible from a scientific standpoint. I have long maintained that dolphins have a sono-visual language so I am naturally gratified that this latest research has produced a rational explanation and experimental data to verify my conjectures. As early as 1994, in a book I wrote for children, Dilo and the Call of the Deep, I referred to Dilo's ‘Magic Sound’ as the method by which Dilo and his mother pass information between each other using sonic imaging, not just of external visual appearances, but also of internal structures and organs.”

As a result of Reid’s bio-cymatic imaging technique Kassewitz, in collaboration with research intern Christopher Brown, of the University of Central Florida, is beginning to develop a new model of dolphin language that they are calling Sono-Pictorial Exo-holographic Language, (SPEL). Kassewitz explained, “The ‘exo-holographic’ part of the acronym derives from the fact that the dolphin pictorial language is actually propagated all around the dolphin whenever one or more dolphins in the pod send or receive sono-pictures. John Stuart Reid has found that any small part of the dolphin’s reflected echolocation beam contains all the data needed to recreate the image cymatically in the laboratory or, he postulates, in the dolphin’s brain. Our new model of dolphin language is one in which dolphins can not only send and receive pictures of objects around them but can create entirely new sono-pictures simply by imagining what they want to communicate. It is perhaps challenging for us as humans to step outside our symbolic thought processes to truly appreciate the dolphin’s world in which, we believe, pictorial rather than symbolic thoughts are king. Our personal biases, beliefs, ideologies, and memories penetrate and encompass all of our communication, including our description and understanding of something devoid of symbols, such as SPEL. Dolphins appear to have leap-frogged human symbolic language and instead have evolved a form of communication outside the human evolutionary path. In a sense we now have a 'Rosetta Stone' that will allow us to tap into their world in a way we could not have even conceived just a year ago. The old adage, ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.”



Click to enlarge


David M. Cole, founder of the The AquaThought Foundation, a research organization that studied human-dolphin interaction for more than a decade said, “Kassewitz and Reid have contributed a novel model for dolphins' sonic perception, which almost certainly evolved out of the creature's need to perceive its underwater world when vision was inhibited. Several conventional linguistic approaches to understanding dolphin communication have dead-ended in the last 20 years so it is refreshing to see this new and highly-nuanced paradigm being explored.”

The human capacity for language involves the acquisition and use of a complex system of vocal sounds to which we attribute specific meanings. Language, the relationship between sounds and meanings evolved differently for each tribe of humans and for each nation. It is generally believed that the human language faculty is fundamentally different from that of other species and of a much higher complexity.

The development of vocal language is believed to have coincided with an increase in brain volume. Many researchers have wondered why dolphins have brains comparable in size with those of humans, considering that Nature creates organs according to need. The Kassewitz team’s findings suggest the large dolphin brain is necessary for the acquisition and utilization of a sono-pictorial language that requires significant brain mass.

Dolphins enjoy constant auditory and visual stimulation throughout their lives, a fact that may contribute to their hemispheric brain coordination. The dolphin’s auditory neocortical fields extend far into the midbrain, influencing the motor areas in such a way as to allow the smooth regulation of sound-induced motor activity as well as sophisticated phonation needed for production of signature whistles and sono-pictures. These advantages are powered not only by a brain that is comparable in size to that of ahuman but also by a brain stem transmission time that is considerably faster than the human brain.

Kassewitz said, “Our research has provided an answer to an age-old question highlighted by Dr Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute, ‘Are we alone?’ We can now unequivocally answer, ‘no.’ SETI’s search for non-human intelligence in outer space has been found right here on earth in the graceful form of dolphins.”

Full results of this research are available on request from Jack Kassewitz.

Jack Kassewitz: speakdolphin@mac.com
305-807-5812 - Miami, Florida

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

Here is our press release story that went out worldwide in December 08:

Songs From The Sea:

Deciphering Dolphin Language with Picture Words

Key words: Dolphin, Cetacean, Acoustics, Holography, Language, CymaScope 

In an important breakthrough in deciphering dolphin language, researchers in Great Britain and the United States have imaged the first high definition imprints that dolphin sounds make in water.

The key to this technique is the CymaScope, a new instrument that reveals detailed structures within sounds, allowing their architecture to be studied pictorially. Using high definition audio recordings of dolphins, the research team, headed by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid, and Florida-based dolphin researcher, Jack Kassewitz, has been able to image, for the first time, the imprint that a dolphin sound makes in water. The resulting "CymaGlyphs," as they have been named, are reproducible patterns that are expected to form the basis of a lexicon of dolphin language, each pattern representing a dolphin ‘picture word.’

Certain sounds made by dolphins have long been suspected to represent language but the complexity of the sounds has made their analysis difficult. Previous techniques, using the spectrograph, display cetacean (dolphins, whales and porpoises) sounds only as graphs of frequency and amplitude. The CymaScope captures actual sound vibrations imprinted in the dolphin’s natural environment—water, revealing the intricate visual details of dolphin sounds for the first time.

Within the field of cetacean research, theory states that dolphins have evolved the ability to translate dimensional information from their echolocation sonic beam. The CymaScope has the ability to visualize dimensional structure within sound. CymaGlyph patterns may resemble what the creatures perceive from their own returning sound beams and from the sound beams of other dolphins.

Reid said that the technique has similarities to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. "Jean-Francois Champollion and Thomas Young used the Rosetta Stone to discover key elements of the primer that allowed the Egyptian language to be deciphered. The CymaGlyphs produced on the CymaScope can be likened to the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone. Now that dolphin chirps, click-trains and whistles can be converted into CymaGlyphs, we have an important tool for deciphering their meaning."

Kassewitz, of the Florida-based dolphin communication research project SpeakDolphin.com said, “There is strong evidence that dolphins are able to ‘see’ with sound, much like humans use ultrasound to see an unborn child in the mother’s womb. The CymaScope provides our first glimpse into what the dolphins might be ‘seeing’ with their sounds.”

The team has recognized that sound does not travel in waves, as is popularly believed, but in expanding holographic bubbles and beams. The holographic aspect stems from the physics theory that even a single molecule of air or water carries all the information that describes the qualities and intensity of a given sound. At frequencies audible to humans (20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz) the sound-bubble form dominates; above 20,000 Hertz the shape of sound becomes increasingly beam shaped, similar to a lighthouse beam in appearance.

Reid explained their novel sound imaging technique: “Whenever sound bubbles or beams interact with a membrane, the sound vibrations imprint onto its surface and form a CymaGlyph, a repeatable pattern of energy. The CymaScope employs the surface tension of water as a membrane because water reacts quickly and is able to reveal intricate architectures within the sound form. These fine details can be captured on camera.”

Kassewitz has planned a series of experiments to record the sounds of dolphins targeting a range of objects. Speaking from Key Largo, Florida, he said, “Dolphins are able to emit complex sounds far above the human range of hearing. Recent advances in high frequency recording techniques have made it possible for us to capture more detail in dolphin sounds than ever before. By recording dolphins as they echolocate on various objects, and also as they communicate with other dolphins about those objects, we will build a library of dolphin sounds, verifying that the same sound is always repeated for the same object. The CymaScope will be used to image the sounds so that each CymaGlyph will represent a dolphin ‘picture word’. Our ultimate aim is to speak to dolphins with a basic vocabulary of dolphin sounds and to understand their responses. This is uncharted territory but it looks very promising.”

Dr. Horace Dobbs, a leading authority on dolphin-assisted therapy, has joined the team as consultant. "I have long held the belief that the dolphin brain, comparable in size with our own, has specialized in processing auditory data in much the same way that the human brain has specialized in processing visual data. Nature tends not to evolve brain mass without a need, so we must ask ourselves what dolphins do with all that brain capacity. The answer appears to lie in the development of brain systems that require huge auditory processing power. There is growing evidence that dolphins can take a sonic 'snap shot' of an object and send it to other dolphins, using sound as the transmission medium. We can therefore hypothesize that the dolphin's primary method of communication is picture based. Thus, the picture-based imaging method, employed by Reid and Kassewitz, seems entirely plausible."

The CymaGlyphs of dolphin sounds fall into three broad categories, signature whistles, chirps and click trains. There is general agreement among cetacean biologists that signature whistles represent the means by which individual dolphins identify themselves while click trains are involved in echolocation. Chirps are thought to represent components of language. Reid explained the visual form of the various dolphin sounds, “The CymaGlyphs of signature whistles comprise regular concentric bands of energy that resemble aircraft radar screens while chirps are often flower-like in structure, resembling the CymaGlyphs of human vocalizations. Click trains have the most complex structures of all, featuring a combination of tightly packed concentric bands on the periphery with unique central features.”

Regarding the possibility of speaking dolphin, Kassewitz said, “I believe that people around the world would love the opportunity to speak with a dolphin. And I feel certain that dolphins would love the chance to speak with us – if for no other reason than self-preservation. During my times in the water with dolphins, there have been several occasions when they seemed to be very determined to communicate with me. We are getting closer to making that possible.”

www.speakdolphin.com

 

 


 

 


“There is strong evidence that dolphins are able to ‘see’ with sound, much like humans use ultrasound to see an unborn child in the mother’s womb. The CymaScope provides our first glimpse into what the dolphins might be ‘seeing’ with their sounds,” said Jack Kassewitz in Key Largo, Florida where he conducts much of his dolphin research.

Dolphin Poster

$19.90 + $5 shipping = $24.90 *Donation* All profits go toward deciphering Dolphin language.

Dolphin Objet d'Art

$59.90 + $5 shipping = $64.90 *Donation* All profits go toward deciphering Dolphin language.

 

 

  • Copyright Cymascope.com 2011

  •