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January 26, 2009

Dolphin Dilemma

Recall the group of 16 bottlenose dolphins that curiously ended up in several New Jersey rivers this summer, and took up residency there? Now that the dolphins have apparently left the Garden State (three died, the others either went back out to sea or are trapped under frozen rivers), folks on all sides of the issue are debating whether NOAA did the right thing in not rescuing the creatures. According to the Washington Post, NOAA will perform a rescue if: -the animal is trapped as a result of human activity -the animal is in danger of extinction -the animal is far outside of their usual habitat But since these bottlenose dolphins didn’t satisfy these criteria, NOAA opted to leave the dolphins alone. Some argue that NOAA is in the right because animals are adaptable — and they often seek to expand their range. Another said owing to the dolphins’ advanced cognitive abilities, they should be treated with the same moral code as humans. It’s a sticky ethical issue, and perhaps there is no right answer. But I want to know what you think — Should the dolphins have been rescued?