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"It is time for us to decide that we believe whales and dolphins have a right to their lives"

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posted on May, 25 2010 @ 05:15 PM

Perhaps it is time for us to decide that we believe whales and dolphins do have a right to their lives, their liberty and the protection of their home and family

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as non-human persons

Scientists studying dolphin behavior have suggested they could be the most intelligent creatures on Earth after humans, saying the size of their brains in relation to body size is larger than that of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and their behaviors suggest complex intelligence. One scientist said they should therefore be treated as "non-human persons" and granted rights as individuals.

The behavioral studies showed dolphins (especially the bottlenose) have distinct personalities and self-awareness, and they can think about the future. The research also confirmed dolphins have complex social structures, with individuals co-operating to solve difficult problems or to round up shoals of fish to eat, and with new behaviors being passed from one dolphin to another.

It's a shame as a species the human race are generally stuck with petty tribal & religious warfares (with our leaders anyway), and the selfish & seemingly endless pursits of profits.... I hope after the financial system collapses we can be a more responsible species and take care of our planet and its inhabitants much better. I wonder how many dolphins & whales, and other marine life have died in the gulf oil spill, and from other ecological disasters over the decades.

Hopefully in the near future (if the human race is still around), we will better define these crimes and more importantly prevent them from ever happening again. But alas, we can't prevent humans from killing each other, so how will we ever prevent humans from killing other intelligent creatures that are as intelligent, or possibly moreso on a different spiritual level that really matters. As a race we think we often think that we're so important because we can think & reason to build complex machines, but looking at the state of the world this only seems to be leading to a self-termination and extermination of other species.

We often think aliens don't contact us because of our disregard towards each other, but perhaps more importantly, it's our disregard for the environment and other species that prevents aliens ever really wanting to make any sort of contact with us, except on an extremely limited basis.

New research is showing that whales and dolphins possess intelligence and culture more complex that we had previously assumed, says Margi Prideaux. And, she argues, this raises anew the question of how we should relate to them - including whether it is ever right to hunt them.

Despite long held preconceptions of human pre-eminence, scientists are discovering sophisticated intelligence beyond the boundaries of our own species.

It may surprise us, but dolphins and whales have such qualities.

Will our consideration of whales and dolphins be based on numerical calculations of abundance, or will we recognise them as highly evolved mammals living in complex societies?

The fact that discussion is even taking place indicates we are on the road towards a position of respect.

Many whale and dolphin researchers now agree that they are studying sophisticated, evolved intelligences, born of a differently constructed sense of self; without necessarily needing to be an "intellect" directly comparable to ours.

We now understand that dolphins and whales, in various different ways, have distinct personalities and identities; that they can think about the future, and have the innate ability to learn language.

Much of whale and dolphin behaviour is cultural, learned and passed down through generations.

They have complex decision-making and communications structures, and an independent evolution of social learning and cultural transmission appropriate to the radically different environment they live in.

Decision time

Blinded by the limits of our own imagination, historically we have found it difficult to envisage another entity with capabilities that rival our own.

It has been our own insecurity that impedes our recognition of the impact of our actions on animals that society could otherwise regard as having moral significance.

In so many ways, they are as complex as we are.

Acknowledging that at least some animals are "beyond use" brings forward implications spanning philosophy, law, science and policy.

However, the evidence suggests that a challenge to the status quo is the next logical step.

No-one is suggesting that whales and dolphins be granted a right to vote, to hold a driver's licence, or to receive a free and fair education.

But in this short half-year we have had enough examples posed to evoke a deep and thoughtful global conversation about our collective moral compasses.

Perhaps it is time for us to decide that we believe whales and dolphins do have a right to their lives, their liberty and the protection of their home and family.

Or will we return to a world that accepts whaling? Will whales and dolphins, like the orca in the US marine park, continue to circle pools for our entertainment?

The choice is ours to make.

Is it possible that 2010 could be remembered as the year when we faced our insecurities and embraced other highly evolved species, with all the responsibility that entails?

This year, which is set to be an eventful one, started with a physical clash between whalers and activists in the Southern Ocean.

Perhaps our unfulfilled anticipation of action on climate change late last year made us reach for progress somewhere else - namely biodiversity.

The confrontation between whalers and campaigners sparked a global debate about how we regard other species on the planet.

In this case, it was asked whether whales and dolphins exist as a resource for humans, or whether they have an inherent right to their life, their liberty and their home.

Meeting of minds

In February, the 2010 Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) addressed the unprecedented subject of "intelligence in dolphins: ethical and policy implications".

A panel of three well-regarded academics discussed whether the emerging scientific knowledge about the cultural and cognitive processes of whales and dolphins should influence international policy decisions and ethical considerations for their treatment.

Their conclusions were that yes, it should.

Within days of the AAAS conference, a veteran animal trainer in the US drowned when a male orca dragged her underwater.

Surprisingly, there was not a media or public outcry against the whale itself.

Instead, attention was focused on the appropriateness of keeping this mighty, complex and intelligent species captive for human entertainment.

In March, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) met to discuss the details of a "deal" about the future of whaling activities.

The global discussion then erupted into sharp debate, with some favouring a return to whaling, and others saying such a precedent should never again be set.

Governments in both camps suddenly found themselves under significant pressure from their constituencies, and the political dance for positions began.

At the same time, The Cove - a documentary investigating the annual slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises around Japan - unexpectedly received the Academy Award for Best Documentary 2010, mainstreaming another example of our need to confront our relationship with these species.

By the end of March, a Los Angeles restaurant was closing its doors as a self-imposed penalty for serving whalemeat.

In late April, an unprecedented US Congressional oversight hearing was held to review the education and conservation value of keeping marine mammals in captivity.

The hearing came about through a convergence of important events, including the orca incident, public uproar about the link between the dolphin drive hunts in Japan and the international zoo and aquaria industry, and a timely regulatory review process.

April also marked the second major oil spill in six months seriously to threaten habitats of whale and dolphin populations in different parts of the world.

Setting the agenda

With four eventful months behind us, we now look towards the IWC meeting in June where governments will formally consider the proposal that could usher in the return to whaling.

This meeting will, in some ways, conclude the six-month conversation and set the tone for our relationship with these animals for decades to come.

[edit on 25-5-2010 by john124]

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 05:29 PM
Whaling is wrong. Whales & Dolphins are such beautiful creatures, or "non-human persons."

I STRONGLY believe that they should have their own rights to their own home, the oceans (not their little rings in aquariums.)
Nice thread John,

[edit on 25-5-2010 by JesseMayday]

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 05:46 PM
I am doing an essay for one of my classes about animal emotions. One of my topics involves the discovery of spindle cells in the brains of whales.

We know that they sing, sending musical waves through the deep as they travel in complex family units. We know that they appear stricken with grief when one of them dies. And now we know that the great whales of the world are capable of loving.

A remarkable new study will reveal that whales - hunted for centuries by man, and lauded in ancient literature for their mystical qualities - have the ability to experience love and also deep-rooted emotional suffering.

I agree with the premise of the thread. Given what we now know about whales and dolphins, how in the world can we justify taking their lives?

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 05:56 PM
I also wanted to add how exciting it is/would be for us humans to not be the only creatures on this earth with the level of intelligence and ability to perceive our existence the way we do. It is quite awe inspiring to even fathom a speicies such as whales and dolphins as being aware of themselves, their friends and family, to feel like we do, to think about time like we do and to speak to eachother in their own language.

It gets me emotional thinking about it and it's almost like a burden being lifted off my shoulders for some reason. I don't know why, but that is the best way I can explain it.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 05:57 PM
Seriously??? I mean I like dolphins and whales as much as the next person, but in a country where unborn HUMAN babies are not afforded the right to live I find it perplexing anyone would seriously propose awarding "rights" to fish.

In a perfect world sure....but the one we are stuck with has much more pressing issues to contend with IMHO.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 06:35 PM
This is the first step towards banning all animal products.

The people behind the anti-whaling and animal rights campaigns are, almost without exception, vegans. The anti-whaling campaign has been successful, because it plays on a combination of emotions: the aesthetic of the animal, the seething resentment of Asians in general, and for the Australians ideas of nationalism and sovereignty over the southern ocean.

The endgame, however, is to use this as a way to get other animals "human rights". There is a fairly large movement in the USA to get "human rights" for farm animals - have a read through the archives here if you're skeptical of where this is going.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 07:30 PM
reply to post by vox2442

We don't massacre dogs and cats, yet we still eat meat.

Surely we can respect other intelligent creatures as well.

Farm animals are bred for slaughter. They wouldn't exist if not for the meat eaters.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 07:38 PM
I think all living beings have a right to their lives. Except owls. Owls are A-holes.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 07:55 PM
reply to post by vox2442

Why shouldn't animals be afforded right to life? At the very least there should be better standards for humane treatment of farm animals.

Near where I live, sea lions are sentenced to death if they are witnessed eating a single salmon(!!)

All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 08:12 PM
reply to post by americanwoman

Whales aren't fish. Seriously.

And what justification do you have for killing these obviously intelligent creatures? They are at least as intelligent as house pets, most likely more so.

Personally, intelligence doesn't even factor in to it for me because I believe in minimizing cruelty to all higher forms of life.

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