The Real Reason Orcas and Dolphins are Called "Evil"
Note: I strongly suggest to the reader, before judging this passage, to read it in its entirety.
Dolphin species (orca whales, bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, ect.) are often hailed as benevolent, friendly, free-spiritual, and sometimes even god-like. I've observed people make the claim that they are smarter than humans, have a higher level of conciseness than us (whatever that means), and that us humans should aspire to be like them in nearly every way.
And also apparently I am a horrible, selfish, and arrogant person who could never approach the grandeur of cetacean-hood. I keep non-domesticated pets (dun dun duuuun!). What’s worse, I belong to a species that is mostly unwilling to forfeit a natural diet in the name of ethics, engages in war, and destroys the Earth.
Ever Heard These Complaints About the Human Species Before?
Of course you have. Viewing humans as the scourge of the Earth is a kind of ideological sentiment that is spreading like malignant cells (something human population growth is also often compared to).
In fact, I have a superior understanding of this because many times, I have felt this way and occasionally still do. It’s hard not to when you bear witness to the numerous and endless atrocities we collectively as a species commit.
Yet, because this is true, people become irrational and desperate, and start looking toward examples in the animal kingdom as a beacon of innocence and beauty, seemingly because that’s everything they believe our species should aspire to be.
Dolphins Are Getting Away with Murder
Nothing seems to thrill humans and mega-fauna lovers (distinct from 'animal lovers' or nature lovers) as much as animals with qualities that they consider to be power, beauty, and intelligence.
People seem to have a special place in their hearts for animals such as horses, wolves, elephants, and of course, dolphins.
I myself, am a bug person, which is considered a little unique. How on Earth am I able to love mosquitoes, people wonder?
They can of course make outdoor excursions miserable for humans and even spread vicious illness in undeveloped countries. Why would these horrid animals choose to bring forth this suffering on to humans? My answer is this: well, for one thing, they can’t really tout a complex brain allowing them to consider ethics and the effects they are having on people.
More importantly, if they stopped sucking blood to feed their babies, they would cease to exist. I guess it is surprising to mega-fauna lovers that small insects also have self-preservation instincts and aren’t concerned with human discomfort in which they would have the commit mass suicide to promote (this would also lead to ecological damage and a loss of biodiversity).
Dolphins on the other hand, with an emphasis on orca whales (or killer whales) are another story entirely.
The only thing more bewildering than the existence of people who are trying to achieve human rights for cetaceans is the fact that a good number of people are actually considering their proposals.
Yet it appears to be difficult for people to realize that the cetacean rights movements are a facet of the animal rights movement. Such an ideology seeks to end human interaction and use of animals entirely. Unfortunately, the movement gains a lot of momentum because our society’s love for dolphins is so fixed.
I think dolphins can thank captivity for a large part of the reason that this is so. Either way, many people have such a strong affliction for the creatures that they near view them as mystical beings.
Man [has] always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much-the wheel, New York, wars and so on-while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man-for precisely the same reason.— Douglas Adams
Clearly, dolphins are just fun-loving beings which simply choose not to engage in war or follow a dividing religion. Clearly, this is a display of the ultimate of intelligence.
At this point you, the reader, should be rolling your eyes. Obviously, the animals do not possess the ability to enter such an ideological conflict of ideas. And trust me, smaller dolphin species do have something worth fighting for, such as being killed by a larger species of dolphin like orca whales, otherwise known as killer whales (which is a very fitting name).
But orca whales are just doing what they need to do to survive, right?
There is a strong possibility that this isn't always to case.
For the longest time I had to accept the explanation from killer whale fans that the torture of seals and cetaceans perpetuated by the transient orca whale pods was purely a survival protocol to teach the youngsters how to hunt.
However, an interesting fact that I was not taught in animal science classes is that orca whales do not need to eat seals or cetaceans. Apparently killer whales are highly opportunistic with their diets, and while some mostly eat fish, others choose to consume cetaceans and pinnipeds. The food choices are apparently ‘cultural’ (one reason why people think they should have human rights and be considered human equivalents) along with their traveling behavior and ‘languages’.
When I first heard this, I was like “oh I didn’t know that….WAIT...”.
Orcas routinely kill pelicans to play with them, to the delight of the audience, since they are 'only' birds anyway.
Do Orca Whales Kill for Fun?
It turns out that there was more validity to my earlier statements than I was led to believe. Orca whales do not need to torture their prey to survive (or thrive). Their torture of fellow equally intelligent and emotional ocean-mates is a ‘cultural choice’. Humans love to celebrate this fact but do not come to the same conclusions as I do because they have devotion-fueled reasoning which shapes their view of the animals. Not only do orcas kill, but they enjoy the hell out of it--similar to humans who pleasure hunt and pose, all smiles, next to their dispatched victims. When humans do this, it enrages many...but no one cares when animals that are said to be emotional, empathetic, and nearly as intelligent as we are do the same. In fact, in a segment of a killer whale documentary, the field scientist describes this with glee, suggesting the animals are ‘high fiving’ each other after a successful hunt.
“Killer whales, for instance, do not kill or even seriously harm one another in the wild, despite the fact that there is competition for prey and mates and there are disagreements. Their social rules prohibit real violence, and they seem to have worked out a way to peacefully manage the partitioning of resources among different groups. That is something we humans haven’t done yet.”
-Lori Marino's fanciful view on how whales may trump us in the 'intelligence' department.
Drowning Whale Babies
A little more disturbing are the ‘sub-cultural’ groups of orcas that spend a good 2-6 hours trying to separate a baby calf that the mother grey whale has carried (gestation is approximately 13.5 months, and they give birth once every couple of years) and nurtured for over a year.
Again, consider that this animal is similarly or equally as intelligent as the orcas, and many will tell you that cetaceans are similarly and equally as intelligent and emotional as humans (or perhaps more, they will say).
The orcas know what they’re doing, and they know what the mother is going through emotionally. At least, according to the people who think they are humans with flippers. The orca whales chase the new parent until she and her calf succumb to exhaustion, and try to drown her baby.
It can be argued that a mother losing a child is one of the greatest emotional pains a person can experience, and orca whales bring it upon grey whales so they can only eat the baby’s tongue, throat, and lip. You read that correctly.
Apparently, it is a ‘delicacy’ to orca whales, like fois gras or veal is to humans. Orca whales subject animals with similar intelligence to themselves over this meager portion. When you look at the fact that these animals have similar intelligence, it becomes clear that orcas preying on cetaceans would not be unlike humans choosing to exclusively consume chimpanzees and gorillas (but even worse).
I would say, arguably, that killing a whale's baby is the most 'unehtical' food choice in the world. After the suffering and mental agony of both mother and child ends when the baby is finally killed, the mother, highly emotional as any cetacean lover can attest to, gets to endure similar mental suffering to that of a human for some time afterwards.
Dolphins Kill on 'Porpoise'
Apologies for the bad pun; bottle-nosed dolphins are probably the most popular and beloved dolphin species next to orcas, and there are instances of them killing for no reason. In fact, they bully and brutally kill their smaller cetacean cousins, porpoises, by breaking their jaw and fracturing their ribs. The severity and cruelty of this act may be overshadowed by the concealment of the ocean.
There are several theories why this may occur, such as territoriality and hormonal rage of newly mature males. Some say this may be due to food competition (which would in fact, seem to contradict the perpetrated idea of nature being a wonderful paradise, if such empathic animals would need to resort to brutal murder in order to survive). I don't pretend to have a definitive answer, but none of the probable explanations are painting these animals in the best light.
So let’s return again to my earlier point about humans who appreciate and adore these animals. It’s interesting that they would be in denial about the prospects that orcas ignore the suffering of their own kind to enjoy the pleasure of the hunt or the taste of the meat, just as humans are accused of (and are criticized by many fellow humans for not dropping every animal-based ingredient to ‘go vegan’).
It’s also interesting that when I bring up these points, all of the sudden people want to deny orca whale ‘human-ness’ and attribute their behavior to animal instinct.
Whales to most people are only intelligent and aware when they are doing the nice things that television glorifies about them. When they are pleasure killing and enjoying the wasteful death of a baby grey whale, they are animals too dumb to understand what they are doing.
People will also race to come up with explanations on why all of my thoughts on these animals are invalid, simply because, I guess, the idealized image that humans have of dolphins couldn't possibly be wrong. Others may adopt another perspective, and accept that these ‘intelligent’ beings, since they are like us, are bound to do some unethical things. Maybe since their intelligence makes them similar to us, I should appreciate them more. And yet again, this is another issue I have with people.
Dolphins and 'Human Ego'
Here’s where irony and human hypocrisy become interesting. Supposedly, I’m ‘arrogant’ for criticizing the idea that cetaceans deserve rights or extra respect due to their ‘intelligence’, yet, I am expected to appreciate animals based on their ‘human’ qualities.
Megafauna lovers cannot understand why I don’t hate mosquitoes, but would consider me a bigot for not treating other animals as equals or undermining their alleged intelligence. It seems to me that the human devotion to cetaceans is another form of human ego, because humans essentially see themselves in the animals and that is why they honor them over other species.
Humans also love that killer whales are not so killer when it comes to attacks against their own species. In the wild, there has even been a reported isolated incident of orca cannibalism, but human meat has never tickled their fancy. So we appreciate that they do not prey upon the world’s most ‘important’ animal, while animals like sharks to many are nothing but ruthless, emotionless killing machines because of a relatively small amount of incidences in which they have attacked people.
I sternly believe that mega fauna appreciation is another form of human self-obsession, wrapped up in subconscious disdain for the fact that humans have flaws (based on our own desired standards that do not exist in the rest of the animal kingdom), which they believe 'shouldn't exist'. But it does exist, it has never not existed, and it isn't going anywhere. I guess that's how 'mother nature' wanted it. It’s clear where the true arrogance lies.
Do you like killer whales?
The fundamental building blocks of the intelligence of killer whales and dolphins are possibly not so analogous to that of our own. Therefore, it is unsurprising that, as is falsely assumed otherwise, they are not so peaceful outside of their need to eat for survival.
The mechanism that drives orcas to branch out and sample dolphins and whale babies does have a possible evolutionary advantage in exploiting other resources and promoting genetic variation. But these are animals that people claim are nearly intelligent as we are, and more importantly, that we should give them rights for it while they can’t even do so for themselves. Where are the orcas that are willing to stand up to the baby grey whale eaters? Either way, I finally have valid confirmation on why I’ve never been a fan of most members of the dolphin family.
Questions and comments encouraged! What do you think?