The Ethics of Dolphin–Human Interaction Essay

In case 12. 1 Thomas I. White brings to attention the human and dolphins history of interaction with one another concerning research, commonalities, human caused dolphin deaths and more. The more researchers learn about the intelligence and conscience of the dolphins they study, the more researchers and society alike is confronted with new questions. Questions which directly relate to the ethical and moral nature of human and dolphin interaction. Some of those questions are: Do dolphins deserve rights, liberties, priority over human self interest, do they have ethical justification for their right to freedom outside of captivity?

In my opinion dolphins interest and rights go no further than a reasonable respect to their right to life which is in no degree comparable to a human life. The knowledge that is believed to be fact by some, and to some have consider conclusive fact on dolphins does not fit the bill with everyone. Much is unknown about dolphins, although there are facts that are true such as the large size of their brains, their intelligent behavior, etc. the similarities of neurological functions and structure of the dolphin and the human brain is speculative and not conclusive.

The origin of intelligence in the human brain is not agreed upon by science, so to claim that dolphins deserve rights, or dolphins interest are more important than our own is an irrational belief. Dolphins are an amazing, smart, water dwelling mammal but I do not believe to any extent outside of animal protection rights, which we decide upon, do they deserve rights or liberties that mirror image human rights or liberties. Some “activists” believe that dolphins in behavior and thought processes resemble that of a human child.

Going further to say that due to dolphins ability to learn keyboard notes to request toys, to recognize themselves in a mirror, hold a well developed system of communication amongst themselves in form of sound frequencies and having what resembles individual personalities we should grant them more. I can see where this could cause a moral and ethical dilemma within in the minds of people but to say dolphins deserve rights is a hard line to walk. Say we give them rights, to what extent will these rights extend to. Should we stop all tuna fishing so that dolphins will not be killed in the process?

Shut down multiple fishing companies which would result in laying off thousands of people and short changing our supply of food from the sea? The money loss would be huge. In my opinion, we humans kill one another daily in our society and I feel it would be an irrational decision to try to enforce a right to life or other rights for dolphins when we can not do the same for ourselves. Even if we the United States made laws which gave dolphins rights, what would stop the rest of the world from tuna fishing or actually harvesting dolphins?

Activist get mad and upset over the number of dolphins which are killed every year during tuna fishing. Activist may claim that the tuna fishing companies should spend more money on a better technology/method of tuna fishing which would prevent dolphin deaths. It may be true that something may one day be devised to help lower dolphin deaths but the number will never hit zero no matter how good the method is. For tuna fishing companies who owe it to their companies, their workers and investors to maximize profit’s the idea of spending gigantic sums of money to come up with a more dolphin safe method of fishing is unethical.

Companies in the United States already try their best to a reasonable extent to avoid killing dolphins. Although it is sad that dolphins are killed in the multiple thousands annually due to tuna fishing I feel that the duty and right of humans (specifically the company, the fisherman and consumers) to continue as we are is our own. The killing of dolphins as long as it is within the regulation of the law is not unethical, immoral if irrationally pursued or is caused simply due to negligence but not immoral in my opinion if it is a casualty so to speak in the everyday harvest of tuna fish.