Meet NOC, the dead Beluga whale that sounds like yodeler who swallowed a kazoo

Beluga whale

Move over, parrots. There’s a new animal in town that can mimic the sound of humans talking, and it’s NOC, a male Beluga whale who was residing National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego in 1984 before he died five years ago. A recent study published by Current Biology in the latest October issue found that “spontaneous human speech mimicry by a cetacean” was possible thanks to recordings by NOC.

The story of NOC’s talking is actually quite adorable: Initially, divers claimed they’d always hear strange noises underwater but thought NOC’s voice was the sound of two people chattering in a distance. But when a group of divers trained outside of NOC’s enclosure and thought they heard someone telling them to get out, they realized it was NOC “speaking.” After the incident, divers began studying the series of sounds coming out of NOC’s mouth, and discovered that the white cetacean was mimicking the sounds of humans talking.

“[The] team recorded NOC’s calls, and found that their acoustic features were very unlike typical whale sounds, but not unlike those of human speech,” Discover Magazine reports. “The rhythm was comparable, with vocal bursts that lasted for around three seconds and gaps of less than 0.5 seconds.”

The study goes on to further find that it was unlikely that NOC learned how to speak, but was simply “interested” in the sounds heard around him. Which wouldn’t be surprising, given that whales are also pretty vocal animals, and closely related to its Cetacean sibling, the dolphin. Eventually, the study ended as NOC began to slowed his speech after four years, and passed after 30 years at the NMMF.

So I bet you’re dying to hear how a beluga whale interprets the way we talk. Hold on to your hats, the accuracy is going to blow your mind.

Not what you were expecting, huh? Yes, his voice sounds a bit like a kazoo, but to NOC’s credit, he’s pretty on par with an average Ke$ha song — and it’s honestly not too far off from the typical city chatter or a person fighting on the phone with a telemarketer. Had this discovery been around just a couple of years earlier, he would have been a great candidate for a collaboration with Beyonce and Jay-Z’s daughter for a record-breaking single, featuring baby Ivy Blue and NOC the talking Beluga. Ah, the possibilities. Rest in peace, NOC, and thanks for wonderful human depiction.

Image Credit: Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Emerging Tech

We tried a $500 electronic dab rig, and now we can’t go back to normal vaporizers

Induction heating is the future of cannabis vaporizers. Loto Labs wowed us with what likely is the best concentrate vaporizer on the market today. With a $500 price tag, it's expensive, but it should definitely be your next dab rig.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Emerging Tech

DeepSqueak is a machine learning A.I. that reveals what rats are chatting about

Want to know what rats are squeaking about? You'd better check out DeepSqueak, the new deep learning artificial intelligence developed by researchers at the University of Washington.
Movies & TV

The best movies you’ll find on Hulu right now (February 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

SeaBubbles’ new electric hydrofoil boat is the aquatic equivalent of a Tesla

What do you get if you combine a Tesla, a flying car, and a sleek boat? Probably something a bit like SeaBubbles, the French "flying" boat startup which offers a fresh spin on the hydrofoil.
Emerging Tech

Israel will launch world’s first privately funded moon mission tomorrow

This week will see the world's first privately funded lunar mission launch. Israel's first mission to the moon will be launched aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday, February 21.
Emerging Tech

FDA warns about the dangers of anti-aging blood transfusions

It turns out injecting old people with blood from healthy youngsters may not be the answer to health rejuvenation. That’s according to the FDA, which says such claims are dangerous junk science.
Emerging Tech

Bees can do arithmetic, setting the scientific community abuzz

A new study has found something remarkable: Bees can do basic arithmetic. Researchers showed that bees could use colors as representations for numbers and then use those colors for addition and subtraction.
Health & Fitness

Immune cell discovery takes us one step closer to a universal flu vaccine

A group of international researchers have made a discovery which could take us one step closer to the universal, one-shot flu vaccine that people around the world have been dreaming of.

NASA celebrates Earth’s incredible natural beauty with free photo book

NASA has published a fabulous new book featuring stunning imagery captured by its satellites over the years. A hardback version is available for $53, though it can also be downloaded to ebook readers for free, and enjoyed online.

This new all-in-one flashlight is a power bank, lighter, and screwdriver

The Pyyros modular flashlight can perform numerous field tasks, from hammering to starting fires. If you back it on Kickstarter now, you can score some savings on this innovative flashlight and multi-tool, but act fast: This early-bird…
Movies & TV

Hilarious new Kickstarter aims to fix Scorcese’s last scene in The Departed

A fan of The Departed and apparent hater of rat-as-symbolism imagery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally erase the rodent from the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie.
Emerging Tech

Baristas beware, Bbox cafe uses robots to brew your morning coffee

Want your morning coffee and pastry prepared by robot? Bbox, a new coffee shop in downtown Berkeley, California, lets customers place their order by app and then uses automation to take care of the rest.