By Virginia Morell for National Geographic
The ongoing capture and slaughter of dolphins at Taiji, Japan—five more mass killings have taken place since the bottlenose hunt last week—troubles us not only because it is cruel but also because of what it says about us as a species.
Since the 1980s, when commercial whaling was finally banned worldwide, we’ve come to know a great deal more about the minds of marine mammals and many other animals. What we’ve learned suggests that, like the human animal, many other species, including all whales and dolphins studied to date, are thinking, emotional creatures, and are conscious.
We also know that common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), such as those who were killed or forcefully separated from their families at Taiji, have societies and rules, and some sense of empathy, and right and wrong.