How a Dolphin Sees You

Translating the odd visual language of echolocation.

Researchers in Miami and the U.K. created the first 3-D print of a human being using dolphin echolocation. The team used high-specification audio equipment to record an echolocation beam from a dolphin as it examined a submerged human from several feet away. The recording was then sent to the CymaScope laboratory in the U.K., where the signal was imprinted onto a water membrane, enhanced, and converted into a 3-D image with the help of a computer.

Of course, the echolocation might result in clearer, more detailed mental images for the dolphins, something our technology isn’t able to reproduce precisely, but it’s fascinating to see what dolphins might be able to “see” with sound.