Noc died five years ago after 30 years of living amongst dolphins and other white whales and being in contact with humans at the National Marine Mammal Foundation based in San Diego in California. Sam Ridgway, who led the study, said: 'Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds.
Mr Ridgway and his colleagues first began to notice some unusual sounds in the vicinity of the whale and dolphin enclosure which was described a sounding as though two people were conversing in the distance in 1984. The sounds were traced back to Noc after a diver surfaced from the whale enclosure to ask his colleagues an odd question 'Who told me to get out?'
The study 'Spontaneous human speech mimicry by a cetacean' are published in the latest issue of Current Biology. The whale called 'NOC' was the youngest of three that had been collected at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada in August of 1977. At times, the speech-like sounds were heard from a distance when no humans were nearby, however most episodes were observed when humans were nearby on the surface or underwater.