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So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

Due to the short nature of my morning commute to work, I generally only read the Football news, but I will generally take a cursory glance through the main body of the paper, whilst reading the Metro on Tuesday I came across a story with the fantastic heading..

“Dolphins are people too”

And let’s be honest at that point there would need to be something wrong with you, to not make time to read that story.

So it seems that Experts in philosophy, conservation and Dolphin behaviour insist that Dolphins and Whales or cetaceans as they are collectively known, are smart enough to be treated as non-human “persons,” and so should be given many of the same rights as Humans.

My first question is what sets Cetaceans above other creatures? Why are we giving them rights and not the Aye-Aye for example, one reason is obvious, the Aye-Aye has a face even a mother couldn’t love.

In our rush to anthropomorphise dolphins have we credited them with powers they just don’t posses?

Intelligence is often defined as

“The Ability to reason, Plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experiance.”

Whilst there is tons of information and anecdotes of tricks that Dolphins have learnt as a general rule these can be put down to conditioning, it seems that Dolphins have shown no unusual skill for problem solving, an area that Rats for example excel.

Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins (Source)

Based on the principle of the equal treatment of all persons;
Recognizing that scientific research gives us deeper insights into the complexities of cetacean minds, societies and cultures;
Noting that the progressive development of international law manifests an entitlement to life by cetaceans;
We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing.
We conclude that:

  1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life.
  2. No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
  3. All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
  4. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.
  5. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.
  6. Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
  7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.
  8. Cetaceans are entitled to an international order in which these rights, freedoms and norms can be fully realized.
  9. No State, corporation, human group or individual should engage in any activity that undermines these rights, freedoms and norms.
  10. Nothing in this Declaration shall prevent a State from enacting stricter provisions for the protection of cetacean rights.

Now I’m all for protecting animals of any kind against cruelty, but I’m pretty sure that a majority of countries have laws against this already, and whilst I’m no expert the ones at Sea World don’t seem to be to unhappy.

We have countries that on weekly, daily, hourly bases fail to conform to the “Declaration of Human Rights” and except in areas that there is enough political or financial gain the world takes little or no action to address this, so realistically how stringently would this be enforced.

Many Animals are considered smart, that’s not surprising animals can do many things that make humans look rather ordinary, many of them however are not cute and/or interesting and so are unlikely to make the news, and many them make a really tasty meal.

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