Dolphin Hunt in Taiji: Why Should I Care?

…starts September 1st.

I know the show The Cove has made this massacre really famous, but I really want to talk about animal sentience, and why we should care at all that these dolphins are being slaughtered and also rounded up to be captured and sold to theme parks.

It is a horrible scene of course, the waters blood-red, dolphin carcasses littering the shore, the boats, floating in the water. Babies, females, males; entire pods (family groups) wiped out. Kind of like someone tricking your whole family into a reunion, and then coming in and killing you all at once. Not such a nice picnic scene, eh?

So, lets say you are a really apathetic individual; after all Japan is really far away. There are “so many” dolphins in the world, plenty in captivity for sure yeah? Anyway, it is kind of like hunting deer right, dumb animals too stupid to get away.

So why should you care?

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Yeah Yeah, that tired old quote… no really why should I care?

Here is why; because as a compassionate and intelligent human beings we MUST have respect for other forms of life, especially forms of life that have shown to also be compassionate and intelligent.

To allow this old school form of selfish thinking to continue is just backwards. Humans are certainly NOT the only beings on this planet, we certainly are not the only feeling beings on this planet and we definitely are not the only “intelligent” beings on this planet. I have personally known birds who are smarter than most humans I know. This is 2012.  Are we really still so self involved and blind as to think we are the only beings with family, with culture, with invention? That is just absurd.

I am not just talking about the dolphins, or cetaceans in general, I mean there are so many scientifically proven creatures on this planet who show sentience that matches our own. To slaughter a sentient being is no better than slaughtering helpless human. Just because we CAN do it, does not mean we SHOULD do it.

So what is sentience? Here is an entire awesome article about it : Animal Sentience

Here is the gist: a creature that can distinguish between objects, animals, sensations, etc… and can appear to learn from situations and cope with the future with a higher understanding.Also appears to be self-aware .

Society, culture, family, innovative thinking. All of these things humans have. So do dolphins and many whale species. So do elephants. So do MANY species of primates and rodents, and many species of birds, especially Psittacines (parrots)  and Corvids (crows and ravens.)

But do you know the difference between all of these sentient species and humans? The real difference? They have all learned to adapt to their environment and SHARE the planet. Not always harmoniously, but they do a large sight better than humans do at sharing the planet. Humans have learned to adapt the environment to fit our needs, often causing destruction and devastation in the process. Our food demands have nearly outgrown our supply’s, so we create new ways to adapt our surroundings and use the environment to help ever bloat our expanding population (think factory farming, think how much food you yourself waste in any given day.)

As a species, we want to continue. I want us to continue, I want us to thrive as a species. But we need to be smarter in what we do and we need to show more compassion and be more aware of what we are doing. Even animals that have yet to have sentience in the strictest scientific terms proven can clearly be seen to at the very least feel pain and suffering, as well as forms of elation. Is that not at least worth a kind manner on our part?

Am I telling you that if you don’t go vegan this moment and don’t stop going to SeaWorld ever again that you are a bad person? No, I am not saying that. I am saying: Be more aware of the world around you, and the consequences of your actions. WHERE do those lovely animals at those theme parks come from exactly? Maybe I should finish all the chicken on my plate instead of just throwing away what I didn’t feel like eating (or at the very least strip the mean from the bone and let your dog have it.) How is it that cows can make so much milk and what happens to their babies (mammals only produce milk when they have young to feed.)

Ask yourself these questions and more. Enjoy what you will, but be aware of whats going on around you. Everything has a price, and if you are going to pay it at least be aware of what price you are paying. If you think it is too steep, make your own personal adjustments in your life, to whatever extent you will, until you come to a price you can morally afford.

——We aren’t the only people on this planet… and we all know it! <–For my fellow LOST fans——

For your further reading about Dolphins specifically:

About Dolphins in Theme Parks

Save The Dolphins

“Talking” Dolphins

And one more about animal sentience, one of MANY books and articles on the subject:

Wonderful Paper on Animal Self Awareness by David DeGrazia

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