Study after study has demonstrated that the harpoons used to kill whales do not result in a ‘quick’ kill by any means. The animal can suffer a gruelling and slow death for as long as thirty minutes. Furthermore, some scientists, in conducting general studies of whale intelligence, have learned that fellow whales, whilst witnessing the death of one of their members, endure suffering and emotional scarring. They feel the dying whale’s pain.
For that is a point which necessarily must be made with respect to whales and whaling: whales are an extremely intelligent species. Though there is still some debate how advanced cetacean intelligence is, there is little question that whales stand in the upper echelons of mammalian intelligence. They have the largest brains of any living organism. As humans we are obliged to respect and hold in reverence those creatures that are most similar to ourselves. The doctrine of animal rights stems from the doctrine of human rights. If humans have innate rights to dignity, then so should those animals whose grandeur and serenity speak to the magnificence of life. By respecting whales, we respect ourselves.
There are, as well, some practical arguments against whaling. Firstly, the consumption of whale meat by people has been shown to be detrimental to human health. As further testament to the disregard man has shown for the environment, whale meat, because it is the flesh of an animal that can live so long and grow to such a size, is full of many different toxins. These include PCB’s, pollutants, dioxins, and mercury. In toothed-whales, the toxin levels are even higher.
At a time when mankind’s blatant disregard for the earth and the global eco-system appears to be at its zenith, it seems only fitting to address one of the more egregious examples of that general tendency: the practice of whaling. As stewards of the earth, humanity has a duty and