We published this feature in late November when this issue broke, but on the 12th December Defra announced that the UK will introduce a new Animal Welfare Bill 2018 that '...sets out that the government “must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”.
Scientific Evidence for Whale and Dolphin Rights
Authors of a new scientific paper published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution have put forward the theory that there is a link between brain size and social and cultural behaviour in whales and dolphins. The researchers looked at 90 different species of whales and dolphins and suggest the bigger their brains, the more complex their lives can be.
Researchers have recorded a number of cases where humpback whales seem to be intentionally rescuing other species.
A new report in Marine Mammal Science on the findings of a study of pilot whales off Nova Scotia, Canada, has shown that adult whales in the population look after the young of unrelated other whales. While this type of babysitting, know as "alloparental care", has been observed in other social mammals, it is the first time it has been studied in pilot whales.
It appears that we humans may not be the only ones that care about the welfare of others creatures. Global data being analysed by scientists seems to suggest that humpback whales are making a conscious effort to rescue other species, like seals, from attacks by orcas.
Although more scientific study needs to be done, there are now numerous reports of this kind of selfless activity by humpback whales.
There’s some debate about what biologists call epimeletic behaviour in whales and dolphins. Essentially, this refers to the giving of care or attention to another individual.
Scientists in Germany have moved a step nearer to understanding the different dialects that whales use when they communicate with each other.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization used computers to analyse a range of aspects of long-finned pilot whale communication, such as whistles, and then built up a ‘set of rules’ or patterns of communication.