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Symposium on the ethical and policy implications of the intelligence of dolphins

Dolphins are complex, social animals.
Dolphins are complex, social animals.
Associated Press

A symposium on the ethical and policy implications of the intelligence of dolphins will be held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2010 Annual Meeting.  Research has revealed that dolphins have a large cerebral cortex to body size ratio second only to the human brain.  They are complex, social animals with cultural capacity, a long juvenile learning period and sense of self according to Dr. Lori Marino, Senior Lecturer of Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University and Faculty Affiliate at Living Links Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center.  Dolphins recognize their image in a mirror, an indication of self-awareness as seen in higher primates and elephants.  Studies show dolphins to have advanced cognitive facilities to comprehend artificial language and problem solve.  These discoveries have crucial ramifications for commercial policy and ethics and open up the topic of dolphin personhood.


There have been news stories of dolphins, as well as other animals, coming to the aid of humans thereby demonstrating their empathic qualities.  There is overwhelming factual evidence that how humans treat dolphins is barbaric.  A documentary film, The Cove, records how thousands of dolphins are corralled and massacred each year in various parts of Japan.  Most of these are sold for meat, much of which has been contaminated well above the legal limit, with mercury.  A select few dolphins are sold to trainers for $150,000 each or more throughout the world.  There is no factual evidence to support that the multibillion-dollar captivity industry, with facilities such as dolphinariums, has any educational value.  There are numerous studies on this controversial topic.  For more information, see The Captivity Industry – The Reality of Zoos and Aquariums by Lori Marino, et al.  For more information on the annual dolphin massacre, visit the Oceanic Preservation Society or Save Japan Dolphins.  To help bring it to an end, file a formal complaint with the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C.


The symposium will take place on Sunday, February 21, 2010, 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the San Diego Convention Center, Room 7B.  Joining Dr. Marino in this symposium will be Dr. Diana Reiss of Hunter College of the City University of New York, Osborn Laboratories of Marine Science, New York Aquarium and the Wildlife Conservation Society.  She is responsible for the dolphin safe label required on tuna cans.  Joining them will be Dr. Thomas White of Loyola Marymount University, Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Wild Dolphin Project.  These experts are living examples of science dedicated to the service of advocacy.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science 2010 Annual Meeting will be held February 18th  – February 22nd 2010 at the San Diego Convention Center.  This year’s theme is Bridging Science and Society.  There will be free Family Science Days.  All are welcome but registration is required.  For more information visit: