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New video: “The Presentation SeaWorld Asked Not to be Recorded”

At the American Cetacean Society conference in November, I was part of a panel on captivity that consisted of: representatives from two facilities that use captive cetaceans (SeaWorld and the Dolphin Research Center), a distinguished marine mammal scientist (Dr. Naomi Rose) and myself. Right before the session began, we were told that the session wasn’t going to be recorded. I later discovered that SeaWorld had made the request. I speculate that the reason was so that there wouldn’t be a record of serious professionals like Naomi and myself objecting to captivity. SeaWorld likes to portray critics as “radicals,” and this claim is easier to maintain as long as there’s no evidence to the contrary. However, because openness and transparency are the hallmarks of science and good research, I’ve taken the liberty of uploading to YouTube an extended version of my comments. There’s a brief introduction. Then the talk (PowerPoint with narration) consists of two parts. The first explains why captivity is ethically indefensible. The second argues that SeaWorld’s flawed strategy causes it to fail in its duty to shareholders and stakeholders and results from the lack of the appropriate skill set in the company’s senior managers and Board of Directors.

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In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier is a groundbreaking book in which philosopher Thomas White argues that the scientific evidence is now strong enough to support the claim that dolphins are, like humans, self-aware, intelligent beings with emotions, personalities and the capacity to control their actions. Accordingly, White argues, dolphins should be regarded as “nonhuman persons” and valued as individuals. White also concludes that, from an ethical perspective, the injury, deaths and captivity of dolphins at the hands of humans are wrong..

Looking at everything from the structure of the dolphin brain, to cetacean emotional abilities and social intelligence, and the implications of the fact that humans and dolphins have dramatically different evolutionary histories, In Defense of Dolphins explores the idea that, in the person of dolphins, humans have truly encountered an “alien intelligence.”

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