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Creepy recording of orcas imitating human speech leaves people amazed but extremely terrified

By Emily Brown


Researchers gave a killer whale six human sounds, and what they got in response was incredible – if a bit unnerving

Ever wanted to hear a whale imitating a human?

I can’t say it’s a long-held desire for me personally, but it’s happened, so why not give it a listen? Though be warned, some of the sounds might give you nightmares.

The recordings come from research into orcas‘ ability to mimic human speech, which found – in case you couldn’t tell from the recording – that killer whales are able to copy us with a fair amount of success.

Josep Call, a co-author of the study published in 2018, explained the researchers wanted to see ‘how flexible a killer whale can be’ when it comes to copying sounds they’re not used to.

“We thought what would be really convincing is to present them with something that is not in their repertoire – and in this case ‘hello’ [is] not what a killer whale would say,” Call said, per The Guardian.

Wikie the whale succeeded in mimicking a number of human sounds. (Abramson et. al/CBS News)

Wikie the whale succeeded in mimicking a number of human sounds. (Abramson et. al/CBS News)

The team carried out the research by first training a 14-year-old orca named Wikie to copy three familiar orca sounds made by her three-year old calf, then exposing her to five orca sounds she had never heard before.

Finally, Wikie heard a human make three orca sounds, then six human sounds including the words ‘hello’, ‘Amy’, ‘ah ha’, ‘one, two’ and ‘bye bye’.

After listening to Wikie’s responses, the team found that the orca was able to quickly copy the sounds, including nailing two of the human utterances on the first attempt.

Recordings of Wikie capture her attempts to mimic the human speaking to her, and while admittedly some of the attempts sound like they’ve come from a terrifying goblin, others are eerily accurate.

Listeners have been left unnerved by the recordings, with one viewer commenting: “The hello sounded demonic.”

Another joked: “OK, that second hello was a little demonic. Was that really an orca, or the Devil speaking through a ghost box LOL The funniest and scariest thing EVER! That’s my day, can’t stop laughing my head off lol.”

But as demonic as the recordings might sound, other viewers have pointed out just how amazing it is to hear the whale mimic humans…


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One Comment

  1. Sean Crawford Sean Crawford July 3, 2024

    Even Joe Biden makes human sounds yet No one knows what he is saying.

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