For the first time ever, you can see what a dolphin sees. Well, okay, you can’t look through a dolphin’s eyes but you can take a gander at this image that represents how a human looks through a dolphin’s echo location system. Researchers from Miami and the United Kingdom worked collaboratively to create the unprecedented image, using a system that translates sound first into 2D images and then into 3D. The result is a cloudy but positively identifiable silhouette of a submerged diver.
Dolphins are among the most intelligent mammals on Earth, inspiring a curiosity in humans that has led many a researcher to investigate ways to “talk” to dolphins. Jack Kassewitz has been studying human-dolphin communication for the last 10 years, and found that 92 percent of dolphins could identify an object through recorded sonar echoes. In an effort to find out what the dolphins “see” when they hear the recordings, Kassewitz enlisted the assistance of John Stuart Reid, designer of the CymaScope imaging system.
The procedure for converting dolphin noises into pictures people can appreciate required interspecies cooperation. A hydrophone captured the sonar echoes from a female dolphin named Amaya after she directed her sonar beams at a diver. The CymaScope system imprinted sonic vibrations from the water so they can be turned into images. “When a dolphin scans an object with its high frequency sound beam, each short click captures a still image, similar to a camera taking photographs,” Reid explains. “Each dolphin click is a pulse of pure sound that becomes modulated by the shape of the object.”
Images via SpeakDolphin.com/Cymascope Laboratory and Shutterstock