Dolphins are toothed sea mammals which closely resemble whales. There are over forty kinds of dolphins in the world and are said to be friendly to humans unlike many marine creatures. They are the most intelligent of all sea creatures and the trained ones are able to understand or decode human messages. There are cases where lost travelers have been guided by dolphins and also in other instances where some drowning victims have been saved by them. Many people have argued that dolphins should be considered as persons something that has elicited a lot of mixed reactions with some backing this argument while others strongly refute it.
This paper is going to take a stand and support the claim that dolphins should be considered as persons. The first incident that left many questioning themselves as to whether dolphins should be treated as animals or persons was when two bottle-nosed dolphins from the University of Hawaii’s Marine Biology department meant for experimentation were released back to the waters by La Vasseur who from a human perspective considered capturing of dolphins and keeping them in an isolated place from the rest, rationing their food and denying them the environmental conditions they enjoyed in the sea considered it as mistreatment and unethical.
His argument was that these animals should be accorded some rights so as to protect them from being mistreated and he even went to an extent of asking if the Thirteen Amendment human rights could be extended to them. The ruling in this case to some extent closed the doors for dolphins to be accorded the rights they deserve by refusing the case to take a moral perspective when judge Doi termed it as pure theft (Miller and Williams, 1983; 365). There are many facts about dolphin that go unexplored or if this is not the case, they are simply ignored.
If these facts are given the attention they deserve then one would be in a better position to comprehend why these animals should be treated as persons. One thing that should be known is that just like human beings, dolphins have a sense of humor. According to Blackstock (2003), dolphins try to joke by surprising unsuspecting pelicans by grabbing some feathers from its tail or inching stealthily to unsuspecting fish and grab its tail. In other cases, dolphins would be seen tricking some turtles where it would make it roll a number of times.
Still in another incident, a dolphin was seen trying to bait a fish only to snatch the bait before it could be eaten thereby leaving the fish puzzled. This is indicative of possession of high intelligence as it only human beings and other primates that possess a sense of humor. Dolphins like human beings have a way of communicating. Their bodies are designed in such a manner such that they produce whistles and clicks as they swim using their nasal passages. This communication keeps them away from any danger for example, they whistle as they swim in the sea to ensure they are together.
Apart from this, they maintain body contact by swimming close to one another where they can rub and hit each other with their pectoral fins. They also use their pectoral fins to greet each other just like humans use their hands and shoulders to hug one another. This is said to happen when two different dolphins come together and touch each other with their pectoral fins something that is interpreted to mean greetings (Robins Island. org. 2009). To detect whether there are dangers ahead, dolphins send ‘clicks’ into the water which if they hit a solid object such as rocks, boats, logs and other sea animals are rebuffed.
By using their complex means of detecting the echo, they estimate the distance at which these objects could be located depending on the strength of the echo. Also dolphins are capable of producing whistles with different emotional tones that send specific emotional messages. A study that was done shown that when this sound was produced, other dolphins responded and behaved in a particular way. Just like a human mind which through experience acquires or gains knowledge, dolphins too can acquire knowledge.
Studies that were done shown that trained dolphins have been able to mimic certain human sounds or perform some spectacular tricks that one would imagine could only be done by a human being like somersaulting in water. Having realized the level of intelligence these animals possess, the United States navy had at one time thought of training them so that they would help them in their undersea operations but it was later realized that they if they were trained, they would interfere with nuclear submarine operations.
The truth is that if trained these animals are able to survey the security of the area and give the feedback before any naval operation is conducted just like humans do. The only difference between these animals is that it is their nature to stay in water and thus they are better adapted to swimming in the sea than human beings. They are able to relate well with human beings and because they are able to communicate and work with human beings in various marine operations, they should be treated as a non-human person and not like animals as this show that they think and reason just like human beings.
For example, according to the Science Daily (2003), the US navies used dolphins in 2003 to detect the bombs that might have been planted by Iraq troops in the sea channel where ships carrying hospital and other war materials would pass through. The only notable difference between humans and dolphins is that one is a sea mammal while the other is a primate and thus there would no good reason as to why these animals should not be protected and accorded the rights they deserve.
Using its intelligence, bottle-nosed dolphin seems to understand the value of human life and that it is why it saves swimmers from being attacked by sharks. This is something that was attested by Howe who according to New Zealand Press went to swim with his daughter and was about to be attacked by a three meter shark before he was saved by a herd of dolphins who kept it at bay (Jones, 2004). This shows that just like how human beings protect their pets, dolphins also value humans and thus treat them as their best friends.
This shows that their level of intelligence is close to that of humans and thus people should awaken to the role they play in their lives and treat them like other humans. Indeed, dolphins should be treated and categorized as persons. Their level of intelligence is much close to that of human beings and they seem to understand human beings as humans do and that is why they save swimmers who are at danger of being eaten by sharks. Dolphins in some cases have worked closely with humans for example during the transportation of hospital aid to Iraq where they were used in detecting bombs set in the sea by Iraq rogues soldiers.
Most of the characteristics that dolphins possess are like those of human beings for example they have a way of communicating, system of danger detection, emotion appeal or aspect and they are social animals as they stay in herds or in pairs. For these reasons dolphins’ rights should be treated and protected just like human rights are protected by the constitution. References: Blackstock, Regina. 2004, Dolphins and Man equals. Available at http://www. littletownmart. com/dolphins/ Jones, S. November 24, 2004.
Dolphins save swimmers from shark. Retrieved from http://www. guardian. co. uk/science/2004/nov/24/internationalnews Miller, H. B. and Williams, W. H. 1983. Ethics and Animals. Humana Press. Robins Island. org. 2009. Facts and Information about Dolphins. Accessed from http://www. robins-island. org/dolphins_facts. php Science Daily. 3rd July, 2003. Men, Mammals, And Machines: Underwater Drone Works With Men And Dolphins. Accessed from http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2003/07/030701224407. htm
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Topic: Dolphins as Persons
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