Whales and Dolphins: Classified as Persons?
ALASKA - A group of scientists wants whales and dolphins to have the same basic rights as humans, and said they can be classified as persons.
Dr. Lori Marino studies behavioral biology at Emory University and is one of several scientists who attended a national science conference in Canada this week to talk about certain species of marine mammals.
One of the topics discussed was how dolphins and whales are self-aware and have advanced cognitive abilities.
A study done by Marino in 2001 shows how bottlenose dolphins can recognize themselves in the mirror and identify who they are.
“They’re aware of their own bodies and thoughts and can think about themselves,” said Marino.
She said the marine mammals are extremely intelligent and deserve the right to life.
“When we exploit these populations of dolphins and whales in the wild, we’re not only exploiting groups, but we’re exploiting individuals,” she said.
“Our traditional religions and philosophies are actually based on looking at all things as living entities, as cognitive thinking creatures and our counter parts to the environment we share,” said Dr. Maria Williams, a Native Alaskan professor at UAA.
Williams said more than 150 villages across the state rely on whales for food and whale hunting is part of who they are as a people.
Williams said if the resource is gone, Alaska’s livelihood would vanish.