Do humans really have any responsibility to wild marine mammals? Marine mammals in zoos certainly come under the heading of being under human control, but, do humans really have any responsibility to the welfare of wild marine mammals? The answer to this is, I suspect, ‘it depends’. The marine mammals reflect mammalian adaptations to a fully aquatic (cetaceans, sirenia), mostly aquatic (seals, sea lions) or semiaquatic (otters, polar bear) life. This is a spectrum of dependency on water - a stranded whale will be in deep distress and likely to die after half a day on a beach and out of water; a polar bear may not touch deep water for weeks or months, but, on the contrary, it can swim in deep oceanic seas for up to 12 days without touching solid ground. The chapters in this book reflect the variation in marine mammal adaptation and their responses to human pressures. The chapters also reflect the difficulties in discussing wild animal protection, the links between conservation and animal welfare, hunting, pollution, by-catch and captivity all within the same book cover. There is a profound illogicality to some marine mammal issues - for example - in one part of the world, hundreds or even thousands of whales and dolphins are being killed for meat or for use in the entertainment industry in marine parks. In another part of the world, or even in the same country, and even on the same coastline, stranded whales or dolphins are attracting crowds of people with the good intention to rescue, refloat and rehabilitate these animals. Somewhere in this confusing mix of exploitation and protection, conservation and consumption, there remains the capacity for humans to identify animal suffering and, where it seems expedient or politically or socially appropriate, to act.
|Title of host publication||Marine Mammal Welfare|
|Subtitle of host publication||Human Induced Change in the Marine Environment and its Impacts on Marine Mammal Welfare|
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - 20 Jun 2017|