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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

So what’s the point of all this science?

Renowned philosopher Professor Thomas I White has been an advocate for recognising the rights of whales and dolphins for over two decades. He outlines his manifesto for recognising the personhood status of whales and dolphins in his Primer on Non-human Personhood and Cetacean Rights.  Simply, he argues that the supporting scientific evidence now demonstrates that, among others, whales and dolphins have the basic  right to life and the right not to be incarcerated.

Orca in GefangenschaftIn a new essay ‘Whales, Dolphins and Ethics: A Primer’, White now lays down the gauntlet to marine mammal scientists, asking us not just to languish in data collection and analysis, but to also reflect on the ethical significance of some of these new scientific insights. He notes: ‘The fundamental challenge for marine mammal scientists who want to explore the ethical implications of what marine mammal science has discovered about whales and dolphins is to move from the description of facts about whales and dolphins to the evaluation of what those facts say about human behavior towards these cetaceans’.

He asks:

       What are the ethical implications of the fact that whales and dolphins demonstrate such intellectual and emotional sophistication?

       Which ethical standards should be used in evaluating how humans treat them?

       When looked at through this lens, which human behaviours are ethically problematic? How do we change our behaviour to improve the situation?

White argues further that beyond the basic right to life, whales and dolphins deserve the right to flourish in their natural environments and then outlines what the conditions for flourishing might be for these species. If you want to know more watch this presentation.