Friday, October 5, 2012

Dolphin Protection: How much is too much?
In light of Thursday’s lecture dealing with the usefulness of a species in terms of its financial, moral, and functional purposes to humans, should Dolphins be protected? And if so, to what extent? Dolphins are loved throughout the world for many reasons, a few being their intelligence, entertainment, and their protection of humans from predators in the ocean. However, in Taiji, Japan, Dolphins have become a commodity for another reason – their taste. Taiji, Japan is the infamous location where “The Cove” was filmed. “The Cove” was a documentary made in 2009 that showed fisherman luring, capturing, and killing hundreds of Dolphins tainting the cove red.  According to Justin McCury of The Guardian, “During the most recent cull season, which ran from September to March, 928 Dolphins were caught” while the Japanese government allows the slaughter of 20,000 Dolphins a year (The Guardian).  In defense, the fishermen of Taiji claim that the Dolphins are the basis of their economy. They export the Dolphin meat around the world. However, in order to rid themselves of the negative press that “The Cove” brought about, they will be setting up a zoo in Taiji where, “tourists will now be able to swim and play with the mammals in a zoo near the area where the cull takes place” (The Guardian). Yes! You heard right! Taiji wants to setup an interactive zoo for Dolphins while continuing to slaughter them nearby.  This seems like a prime example of species exploitation. What do you think? Should Taiji build a zoo near a slaughter zone? Should Dolphins be more protected? 
Scientists met at The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Canada to discuss the topic of Dolphin protection, and arrived at an interesting conclusion. Some scientists not only believe that Dolphins should be more protected but that they should have their rights recognized. Some scientists believe, “Dolphins and Whales are sufficiently intelligent to justify the same ethical considerations as humans” (BBC news).  And that, “Dolphins should be treated as non-human ‘persons’, with their rights to life and liberty respected” (BBC news). What has caused some scientists to recognize the rights of Dolphins? The answer is the ability of Dolphins to show self- awareness much like humans. According to Psychologist Dr. Lori Marino, she claims that, “Dolphins have a sense of self which could be tested by the way they recognize themselves in mirrors” similar to the way a human can recognize himself in a mirror (BBC news).  As absurd as it may sound to give Dolphins rights and categorize them as “non-human people,” many scientists are pushing for this action.  The declaration made for the rights of Dolphins was made in May 2010 and is continuing to influence more people into recognizing Dolphin rights. So, again going back to the main question- Should Dolphins be more protected? And if so, to what extent? What do you think?

For further Information on either of these topics please visit : for info on Dolphin Rights and for more information on Taiji and their new interactive zoo controversy.

1 comment:

John Latto said...

Very interesting. If we take 'intelligence' as the key for increased species rights than what do we mean by intelligence? Rats and crows can be very smart at problem solving tasks but I don't see anyone proposing rights for rats. I think people actually identify much more with species that have empathy - dogs obviously, but also animals like elephants and dolphins that can clearly respond to human emotions.