Image by NOAA’s National Ocean Service
GKBC Academy writer Elena gives us four reasons why dolphins are one of the planet’s most incredible creatures, and in light of that wonders why we still allow them to be hunted and killed…
I have an odd, maybe slightly obsessive relationship with wildlife. I’m particularly enamoured with the marine ecosystem and in this post you can read about my love of scuba diving and why I think you should give it a try.
Although I like all the fantastic organisms that inhabit the world, some species with highly-advanced social behaviour stand out for me and have a special place in my heart. Dolphins are one of these amazing kinds of creature, and here are four reasons why they are extraordinary.
They are the only animals that call each other by name
It all starts at birth. Dolphin mothers look after their calves for up to five years. During this period of their lives calves will occasionally become separated from their mother, so they need a way to keep in touch over distances. In order to do this, they develop their own unique signature whistle, which they maintain for their whole lives.
All the members of a group learn each other’s ‘names’, so they can all communicate. Scientists think that dolphins are the only animals that call each other by name. There is still much more to discover about their system of communication, so who knows what conversations they are having right now down in the deep ocean?
They are self-aware
Dolphins can recognise themselves in the mirror, something which only very few animals are capable of. They are equipped with spindle cells, which are brain cells linked to language, self-awareness and compassion. Experiments have proved that dolphins not only understand that what they see in a mirror is their reflection, but also are fascinated by it. Just like us, they are narcissistic!
This means that they have the ability to process their own thoughts and those of others and that they are capable of empathy, recognising emotions in other creatures. They can probably distinguish feelings in humans, too.
They are emotional creatures
There are a number of episodes in which it is believed that these amazing marine mammals have saved human lives. All of these cases involved people being threatened or attacked by sharks. Some experts believe that dolphins have saved them for purely altruistic reasons and that they feel compassion, something that is not at all common in the animal world.
Above: Watch an extract from a BBC documentary that recounts stories of dolphins saving people.
They have a unique connection with humankind
Dolphins (and other kind of whales) have a special relationship with humanity. They are sociable and curious, so they invite humans to join them and play. They allow us to share intimate moments with them and perhaps, they even try to communicate with us.
Help Stop Dolphin Slaughter
Not many people are aware of the above facts. Perhaps that is why we forget that large-scale slaughter of dolphins still happens today. Just last month, 700 dolphins were slaughtered in the Solomon Islands. Every September the six-month dolphin hunting season starts off again from the Japanese town of Taiji. Despite the release of The Cove, a documentary that revealed the cruel hunt of dolphins in this region, it shows no sign of stopping. Once captured, these dolphins are sold to dolphinaria from all over the world or killed for food.
Do we really want to leave things like this? Can we really turn a blind eye and forget about the killing of thousands of these exceptional creatures? I can’t, and you hopefully you can’t either.
You can help stop the dolphin slaughter by simply:
- Signing The Cove’s online petition
- Spreading the word, which will raise awareness of the issue
- Boycotting dolphinaria and aquariums in general
- Boycotting tuna cans that don’t have the ‘dolphin safe’ label
Did you realise how extraordinary dolphins are, and know that they are still slaughtered today? Do you have any other suggestions as to how we can fight against these atrocious happenings?
Elena Manighetti is a prolific blogger. Previously a journalist for news, lifestyle, and entertainment at Giornale di Bergamo, she writes about lifestyle, technology, and her passions.