on 11 May 2011
This book is written by experts from the world of whales and dolphins. It brings to life the fast-moving developments related to these animals in a variety of fields including science, ethics, philosophy and animal welfare. The evidence presented leaves the reader in no doubt that whales and dolphins are sentient, self aware animals with complex social structures and strong family bonds. All the most recent discoveries about whales and dolphins are explored and new insights offered about their behaviour, communication, culture and intelligence. One author considers what it might be like to be a dolphin.
The book demonstrates that whales and dolphins are clever and use languages we don't fully understand. They care for one another and have shown acts of incredible generosity to people in trouble. In some cases they have life spans comparable to our own and pass on culture through the generations.
Sadly, like us, whales and dolphins also feel pain, and have the ability to suffer and grieve. An increased understanding of the various welfare issues that affect individual animals, as well as the increasing threats that are wiping out whole populations of whales and dolphins, challenges the reader to consider whether these animals merit our special consideration. Without doubt, if we want to share our planet with healthy and happy whales and dolphins we will need to significantly step up our efforts to protect them from causes of pain, suffering and loss.
This is a fascinating, thought-provoking, and very readable book. It makes a compelling case for protecting and celebrating these truly remarkable animals. A better understanding of them, their abilities and the way they live their lives is presented here. It is unthinkable that with the evidence we now have at our fingertips, human beings will continue to allow the deliberate killing or captivity of whales and dolphins. Perhaps we can dare to hope for more. Could human perceptions of this group of animals change for the better and our respect for them grow? This book has provided a brilliant platform for further discussion about the potential for a shift in thinking about how we relate to higher order animals such as whales and dolphins.
on 25 July 2011
Full disclosure: I helped to write one of the chapters of this book but I don't have a monetary interest. It was an honour and a great learning experience to be involved in this well-structured, well-edited, multi-authored volume which seeks to understand what various cultures think about whales as well as exploring the arguments for whale intelligence, whale culture and whale rights. Read it as a ground-breaking work that provides a new and powerful slant on whale conservation. It's easy to read or dip into. Highly recommended. -- Erich Hoyt
on 30 May 2011
Despite the differences in our physiology and habitat, we share many traits with whale and dolphins. Like us, most species are highly intelligent, long-lived, with relatively slow reproduction rates and a need for intense training until they become responsible and successful adults. Like us, they have complex social lives and belong to different cultures, which even if the same species make each group unique. Moreover, not only are the individuals all different with their very own character traits, but they also have a sense of self - they are persons, just like us. Each is unique and irreplacable.
For centuries, these animals have fascinated humans and even in very early history, many realised that whales and dolphins are unlike most other species inhabiting this planet. In recent years, cetacean science has made quantum leaps. We now have a multitude of scientific facts at our fingertips that show clearly that with cetaceans we are not dealing with animals like any others.
All this has - or should have - an impact on the way not only how we view them, but also how we go about their protection and that of their habitat. This book makes a strong case in this regard and stresses compellingly that conserving a species is not enough - as with humans, the individual, the social unit and the cultural group are valuable and need to be protected.
This book is a must-read for all who love whales and dolphins - and an eye-opener for those who think they are not really very special and can be exploited like any other resource.