Posts by Philippa Brakes
Whale culture and conservation: to infinity and beyond …
In 1977, the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft launched, carrying with them the song of humpback whales and greetings in 55 human languages. Why was humpback whale song chosen to accompany this time capsule of life on Earth being projected to the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond? Perhaps because it is haunting,…Read More
Coronavirus and New Zealand dolphins: many questions, few answers
Like people over the world, New Zealanders have recently been faced with a lot of time at home. Fortunately, humans are remarkably resourceful and we have come up with a variety of ways to amuse, distract and entertain ourselves during these difficult times. As well as being strange and difficult, these are also very sad…Read More
West African bycaught dolphins provide insights for new method for health assessment
Winners of the 2016 WDC Bharathi Viswanathan Award, Marie-Francoise Van Bressem and colleagues, studied photographs of dolphins bycaught in fishing gear from three Ghanaian ports, to develop an opportunistic, non-invasive research tool to examine epidemiological aspects of the general health of free-ranging and by-caught cetaceans. Read more about this novel research here and if you are…Read More
Sperm whale cultural turn-over: moving on out
Decades of research on sperm whales in the Pacific has revealed a most remarkable social event. Researchers have documented the large-scale relocation of cultural groups of sperm whales off the Galápagos Islands. Sperm whale clans can be differentiated by their unique click patterns, or codas. Researchers have been visiting the waters around the Galapagos over…Read More
Whales and dolphins mourning their dead?
There’s some debate about what biologists call epimeletic behaviour in whales and dolphins. Essentially, this refers to the giving of care or attention to another individual. The debate rarely centres around identifying the act itself, which is often easy to recognise, particularly where it involves care or attention from a healthy individual being focussed upon…Read More
New film looks at the issue of whale and dolphin rights
By All Rights, a new documentary by US filmmaker Stan Minasian, is the first documentary to tackle the issue of whales’ and dolphins’ emerging rights: Rights to life, and to freedom. It includes amazing footage, including a remarkable rescue of entangled sperm whales, where the whales wait patiently for rescuers to free them. It also contains interviews with key…Read More
Sperm whales: keeping up with the Joneses
Keeping up with all the research published on whales and dolphins from around the world is a daunting task these days. There is now more research published every month on whales and dolphins than ever before. This is good news for conservation, helping us to evolve better understanding about the complex lives of this fascinating…Read More
Wise words on what it means to be a ‘legal person’
Professor Steve Wise of the Non-human Rights Project made a presentation at TED describing how he and colleagues have been navigating a course for the transformation of chimpanzees from ‘legal things’ (like chairs or pencils) to ‘legal persons’. The presentation is now available on the TED website, is only 14 minutes long and is well…Read More
Rechte für Wale und Delfine: Folgen den wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnissen Taten?
Der anerkannte Philosoph Professor Thomas I. White setzt sich seit mehr als zwei Jahrzehnten für die Anerkennung von Rechten für Wale und Delfine ein. Er stellt diese eindringlich und überzeugend in seinem Grundsatzpapier Primer on Non-human Personhood and Cetacean Rights dar. Darin argumentiert er, dass die aktuellen wissenschaftlichen Fakten klar dafür sprechen, dass Wale und Delfine…Read More
Are Orcas non-human persons?
Kathleen Haase, who developed her own petition to ask British Airways to stop selling trips to SeaWorld, has been volunteering for WDC, working with us on our anti-captivity campaigns. Here she provides some insighful thoughts on orcas in captivity and their right to freedom. Are Orcas non-human persons? “To be, or not to be, that…Read More