Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Dolphins, Sharks and Men

On the Virgin Atlantic flight back to London from South Africa, I watched two documentaries. One was "Life" by David Attenborough, and another was an award winning documentary called the "Cove".

As usual, "Life" was a beautiful film with spectacular images showing how animals, including insects, manage to find ways to survive-defending against enemies, acquiring food, finding mates, etc. The beauty of this planet and the animal kingdom was moving beyond words can describe.

"The Cove" on the other hand invoked totally different feeling in me, a feeling of resentment towards our base human behaviours. The film tells the story of a group of international activists led by a former dolphin trainer trying to stop dolphin slaughter in Japan, where 23000 dolphins get trapped, harpooned and sold as whale meat every year in a place called Taiji where sea gulf became a blood bath during such dolphin harvest season. The cruelty of this human act astounded and angered me, the bravery of these activities inspired and encouraged me, and the sufferings of the dolphins brought tears to my eyes and heartache to my soul. Is this what humanity and civilization are all about -treating intelligent fellow earth citizens with such barbarity??

Dolphins are extremely intelligent, probably more so than even humans. They are proven to be self aware, and their sonar system can "see" through objects. There have been many instances where dolphins saved humans from dangerous situations such as shark attacks. The killing still goes on now despite the heroic actions of these activists, as money of the whaling nations can buy power, even though it has been scientifically proven dolphin meat contains high level of mercury due to sea water pollution and prey fish poisoning and is harmful to health.

Speaking of mercury poisoning, it reminds me of shark fin harvesting which is also extremely cruel. Sharks' fins are cut off and then thrown back into water to languish in pain and die. To spare the embarrassment of the big organization I am talking about below, I will also refer the small organization "smallish". A few years ago, a smallish wildlife organization had some scientific research done which uncovered the detrimental effect of shark fin soup to human health also due to high level of mercury in its body, which cause mental retardness in babies, male infertility and etc. However, because this research was done by someone else-a small organization, this big US wildlife organization refuses to publicize it or act on the findings.

I never understand what's tasty about shark fin soup. But even if it did taste better than soybean noodles, and even if cruelty to sharks is not an issue, I would think humans are reluctant to poison themselves and give birth to retarded babies at the least? But I could be wrong.

Regardless of all above, whether we humans can treat animals with kindness or not is a true measure of a nation's level of civilisation.

"Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." --3rd said the 3rd U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.