AI eavesdrops on dolphins and discovers six unknown click types | Science News

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AI eavesdrops on dolphins and discovers six unknown click types

Computer program picked out the noises from underwater recordings of 52 million echolocation signals

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2:00pm, December 7, 2017
dolphin jumping

LISTENING IN  A computer code picked out six new types of dolphin clicks from several months’ worth of underwater sound recordings.

A new computer program has an ear for dolphin chatter.

The algorithm uncovered six previously unknown types of dolphin echolocation clicks in underwater recordings from the Gulf of Mexico, researchers report online December 7 in PLOS Computational Biology. Identifying which species produce the newly discovered click varieties could help scientists better keep tabs on wild dolphin populations and movements.

Dolphin tracking is traditionally done with boats or planes, but that’s expensive, says study coauthor Kaitlin Frasier, an oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. A cheaper alternative is to sift through seafloor recordings — which pick up the echolocation clicks that dolphins make to navigate, find food and socialize. By comparing different click types to recordings at the surface — where researchers can see which

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