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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.

Transient Orca attacking a gray whale calf

Transient Orca attacking a gray whale calf

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?

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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.

Gray Whale Calf Killed by Orcas. Note the rake marks.

Gray Whale Calf Killed by Orcas. Note the rake marks.

The remains of the grey whale calf, on its way to happy hagfish.

The remains of the grey whale calf, on its way to happy hagfish.

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.

Dead porpoise with rake marks made by you know who.

Dead porpoise with rake marks made by you know who.

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.

Life is not so simple.

Life is not so simple.

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.

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?


Iñaki on August 18, 2017:

I used to believe Orcas choked people to death. Because the word "Orca" is similar to the Spanish "Ahorca" ("to choke").

anonymous on November 13, 2016:

You're hypocritical yourself, Luis. Honestly, you claim that orcas are neither good nor but claim that they won't win. You make me ashamed to be human! I'd rather have killer whales and dolphins win against humans.

As for that mammal thing, mammals are my least group of animals. My least favorite ones are humans. Therefore, I favor reptiles over every other animal.

Luis on October 27, 2016:

It's a mammals thing. We love, we eat, we have fun, and we kill. Humans can explain and try to justify their actions. Other mammals cannot. We can all try to "understand" but reality is that Orcas are not "good" or "bad", they are just another species that if in confrontation with us, they will not win.

anonymous on March 28, 2016:

I can't believe you, Melissa! First, you don't want anyone who reads this hub to judge you badly. Next, you claim that you're a horrible, selfish, and arrogant person. What's up with you?!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 11, 2016:


Paleosaver on February 25, 2016:

I was thrilled to read this. I was afraid this level of common sense had gone from the world. Apparently it has not. Keep up the good work. Thinking of this caliber is far too rare. In fact thinking of any kind is far too rare these days, most people just use their emotions to get through life without nary a logical reason for anything. Knee jerk 24/7.

darkcould on February 01, 2016:

There is one known example of orca and human cooperation to kill gray whales, known as Killers in Eden. In Eden, Australia, orcas figured that humans can kill adult whales, pray that is near impossible for orcas to kill. So, they would herd whale toward shore and 1 or 2 orcas would alert human whalers on shore. Later they would guide boats to gray whale and as reward would get to eat lips and tongue. This went on for many years.

Point is, humans and orcas are top predators and top predators can and will eat what they want, in long run it improves skills and evolutionary survival. Evolution is cruel, life is cruel, survival is cruel in its many forms. Learning new things improves evolutionary survival chances even if it means killing intelligent life forms and also the more different foods species lives on drastically improves survival chances as a species...

Anonymous on December 20, 2015:

Incredible article. I share many(if not all) of the same views that you hold on the subject - I've always just been unable to articulate them quite so well!

Helen Stuart from Deep in the Heart of Texas on August 17, 2015:

It's all part of the mystery we should keep trying to understand. Humans are animals, after all, aren't we? YES. So there is definitely something magical sewn into some part of us, is it our spirit? That is appalled, sometimes unto death, when we witness inhumane cruelty, or butchery, or acts of savagery from one human to another, a human to an animal, or an animal to another animal, while the animal looks on as if "eh, that's life." But this isn't true of the mother defending her young, in many cases, although the female Tiger knows that she must eat first even at the expense of some of her kittens starving. There is no martyrdom there, If the mother said, "No, no, you children eat first, I'll get along." Then soon the whole family would die because the mother could not produce milk or have enough strength to defend the den. This is still a miraculous life. Can you imagine living life undersea? I'm not speaking as a scholar or a philosopher, just some person who likes swimming pools because of an innate terror of that which brushes past my leg. Your post has really got people thinking. I read creepkillers comment and just laughed and laughed. It is the wide held opinion of so many people (scientists) that if you took humans off the planet there would be no damage to it, in fact it would start healing, but if you took some vague little spider off , it would all start falling to hell. It's a very trendy way to talk and think, so creepkiller, you are actually one of those , what do you call them, oh yeah, hipsters. I am so tired of the anti human movement. Its all BS. Its fantastic that we have something in us that animals don't have. It's magic. It's part angel. And look at your most loved pet. It's rubbing off on him or her. Even if it does bring you a dead mouse.

Corey on August 12, 2015:

I can't agree more with you Melissa. People blame humans for acting immoral when we can also fix the unethical things, and yet, when dolphins kill for fun or no reason at all, they always have an excuse that it's 'just nature'. It's not just stereotyping humans, this happens with other 'bad' animals, when they naturally need to kill, are independent or gentle creature such as sharks, canines, felines, arthropods, etc. Great hub!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 22, 2015:

Thank you helen!

Helen Stuart from Deep in the Heart of Texas on June 22, 2015:

Wow, you have a ton of comments. You did help me think differently, so thanks for that. Nature is brutal and bloody and cruel and beautiful. So don't just pick on cetaceans, because they have been worshipped by the hippy dippys. The pendulum may swing back the other way. It's all bad, but it's all good.

Nancy on May 07, 2015:

I don't have much knowledge on cetaceans. All I know is that they can be friendly too if they know that you are not threat to them. I'm glad that you give me more knowledge about them. Thanks!

Joe Keck on April 15, 2015:

They humanize apes and cetaceans because they have the idea that these creatures are pre-evoleved from our species. 'Apes look like us and we used to be whales.'

Truth is, anything that will vitiate the concept of a morally immovable and immutable God must be held onto with a white-knuckled grip.

Good article, mostly very well done. I enjoyed it very much.

By the way, there is compelling evidence that dogs are more intelligent that apes, and I believe the same is probably true regarding cetaceans. It is absolutely mind-blowing what some dogs have demonstrated in clinical studies.

But they don't look like us.

However, fear not! When dogs are proven more cognitively advanced than all other animals, they'll say we "evolved" from them as well some millions of years ago.

Keep up the good work, Mellissa.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 27, 2015:

Thanks Gerardo, my article is basically saying either you believe orcas/dolphins are like humans, which would make them just as evil as us, or you don't. And while humans have plenty of evils, we also have a huge amount of situations where we help animals that I'm sure exceeds all dolphins.

Gerardo on March 27, 2015:

Hi Melissa,

Your post is brilliant at one level and a big let-down at the other.

On the one hand you are spot on about human arrogance and willingness to turn a blind eye to unconfortable facts.

At the same time, you miss the thing that proves that orcas are really like us: it seems that because of their intelligence and culture, some of them engage in horrible, cruel acts. But humans sometimes do monstruous things too. Does this mean humans and orcas are "evil" by nature? I would be inclined to say no because there are humans who don't do horrible things, and perhaps not all orcas engage in cruel acts.

Even if they did, however, prove to be generally cruel animals, we have a moral obligation to be better than them and respect the fact that they are highly sensitive beings (even if they themselves sometimes fail to respect that quality in other species).

Thanks a lot for your insights!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 26, 2015:

The title is only partially misleading. I want it to be found by people looking for pages on that 'evil' claim, although I don't feel that term can be applied to any animal. Plus, I've somewhat reversed my opinion since writing this, or refined it. I couldn't determine if dolphins should be seen as malicious since scientists claim they have high awareness of what they're doing, but now I've settled that dolphins are indeed still animals and cannot be judged differently from other animals. This article just states what dolphins should be considered if someone opts to perceive them as humans. Most importantly, animals shouldn't be seen as 'moral' when there are just as many, if not more examples of them doing something we consider 'evil' than 'good'. That is just selective memory bias.

Awesomebluefire on March 26, 2015:

Interesting opinion piece. Misleading title though. Might just be me but using words such as evil imply morality existing where it doesn't. Personal opinion is that such animals should not be kept in captivity because it is such a pain to create a ideal environment for them as opposed to say dogs which only really require food, decent bedding and walks to be comfortable.That is subjective mostly and partially because I would rather see them jumping off the bow of a ship instead of in a big ole fish tank.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 28, 2015:

Animal Man, you have to read the entire article, and it sounds like English might not be your first language, so you might have missed something.

Animal Man on January 28, 2015:

Before anything mentioned in the article, the folly of viewing animal behaviors through a human morality lens is undermined by presumption that any animal morality would even be applicably comparable to human morality - nevermind the far cry that is a 1:1 comparison.

Regardless, I find that most people who make the sorts of poorly formulated remarks as this article addresses to not respond well to logic in general. With that in mind, perhaps the whole "evil" slant resonates with the more pathos inclined.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on December 26, 2014:

Hello A.E., that's just the thing. Dolphins don't really rape because that is a human concept. That form of a mating ritual is normal and natural to them. They do not have 'morals' like we do and their societies are unchangeable. Just another reason animals are different from humans.

I have written extensively on the subject of exotic pets. Wild animals come from the wild. Captive born animals are not wild animals. I don't feel there are any significant differences between exotic and so-called domesticated animals in captivity. Please see my other articles. Thanks.

A.E. on December 26, 2014:

Hi. I just wanted to say good article, though I can't for the life of me get why people would say that animals are smarter or do-gooders when they aren't. Besides, in many animal cases, the females seem to be raped when they're mating. Disgusting. However, I just want to point out that I read a comment earlier where you stated people should be allowed to own exotic pets. In certain cases this is okay, but there are so many cases of primates having a tendency to attack, as exotic pets retain their wild nature. I, for one, wouldn't really consider keeping them. It's not as simple as wanting something just for the sake of it, but looking at the facts and the consequences. I personally don't consider wild animals pets, I also dislike keeping birds in a cage. I know you can keep them healthy and safe, but they're meant to fly. I suppose we can argue about a whole range of pet/animal/exotic issues, but seeing how we are on the animals instincts channel, might as well add that about exotic pets. Thanks

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on October 14, 2014:

creepkiller37, Does that include yours? Your parents? Your friends? Significant other? Current or future children?

creepkiller37 on October 14, 2014:

And this is why i think human life is expendable.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on October 11, 2014:

Because you seem to understand them, Z. This article is an attack on people who glamorize dolphins in ridiculous ways, which you don't seem to do.

"but I really think the bottom line is- orcas are animals."

Exactly. Most people don't seem to think this. They seem to believe that they have morals and are superior to us because they 'don't kill humans in the wild'. It is due to this anthropocentric view that they fail to see the violence brought out against non-humans.

"Residents and transients are actually genetically different and have not bred together for hundreds of years. They may even in the future be classified a different species. Therefore, your comment that "orca whales do not need to eat seals or cetaceans." and instead have a choice seems a little irrelevant."

You are half right. I do dismiss the idea of this being an example of orca 'culture'. It is speciation. This still doesn't mean they need to eat what they're eating, but what it DOES mean is that this is expected animal behavior. There is no conscious decision to do what they do. This means that their failure to have killed a human so far in the wild is also not some moral decision.

I believe a small number of captive orcas stand a chance of successful release, but I always advocate improving captive conditions as the ideal choice for long term residents. Please refer:

Z on October 11, 2014:

I find myself a little confused at your article if I'm honest. I also agree that many people tend to glorify dolphins and give them an almost saint-hood status. However, that does not stop me from appreciating and respecting orcas. You mentioned that people tend to adore them as peaceful, benevolent animals when they are doing 'nice' things but when they are "pleasure killing" they are just acting according to instinct. I do agree to some extent with that observation but I really think the bottom line is- orcas are animals. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise when they behave like one. In addition, I find it rather strange how you are arguing that people anthropomorphize orcas and paint them into these sentient, benevolent creatures when you are doing the same by projecting human values/morals on them such as murdering and being "evil". I don't think enough is known about the reasons for these actions to automatically assume that it is done purely for pleasure and that they are indeed 'evil'. I don't presume to know the reasons behind these seemingly aggressive acts so I don't you should either by claiming that "not only do orcas kill, but they enjoy the hell out of it".

Furthermore, I get the feeling that you scorn at the idea of different orca 'cultures' and different diets between ecotypes. Residents and transients are actually genetically different and have not bred together for hundreds of years. They may even in the future be classified a different species. Therefore, your comment that "orca whales do not need to eat seals or cetaceans." and instead have a choice seems a little irrelevant. Transient orcas have clearly adapted to eat these animals and have not decided to hunt these animals just to inflict pain on other creatures. You are right when you say that dolphins and orcas do no have the same moral code that we do so I don't understand when people condemn orcas as cold, ruthless, murderers- that is likening them to humans and presuming that they have the same values that we do.

I am strongly against orca captivity but I do understand that release into the wild in not viable for every orca and that some are more suitable candidates than others. However, I don't think that having the goal of release for some orcas is too idealistic. What makes you think so? Why would it be more harmful than beneficial?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 24, 2014:

The situation is that orcas are like any other animal and we can explore our options to improve the list of issues, and they don't have to involve idealistic goals of releasing them, which can even be more harmful than beneficial. They are also not 'more important' than other animals.

Stephan Casey on September 23, 2014:

Alright. Agreed that it is not good for people to misunderstand their situation but what is the situation here really (in your opinion)?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 23, 2014:

Yes I do think it's a bad thing when people don't understand animals and humanize them. The book 'Killing Keiko' can shed some light on that. People can care about them while not misunderstanding the situation.

Stephan Casey on September 23, 2014:

Sorry. I wrote that reply before I saw your reply. Fair enough. Yes aquariums have a place from the point of view of when animals can't be in the wild. Which includes any Orcas currently bred in captivity but we're talking about the greater issue of keeping them because we want to (you know. Similarly to the whole they play with their food because they want to analogy) as opposed to putting them in aquariums for their own good

Stephan Casey on September 23, 2014:

I just want to add that I didn't mean my comments as an attack on you. I'm just saying, yes, I agree that people are over-glorifying these "majestic creatures" but the fact that people don't think that they should be held in captive is a separate issue and if you think it is inhumane then the fact that the creatures themselves aren't perfect not really that relevant here. Unless, of course you argue that they should not be in the ocean at all for the well-being of other animals which I doubt can really be argued.

So to summarize my point. People are emotionally over-glorifying the Orcas which makes them more willing to care what happens to them. Is this a bad thing. Maybe things do need to change and maybe us humans (as the superior beings that we are striving to be) should be the ones to make that change.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 23, 2014:

I'm not using their behavior as an excuse, I'm just applying the screwed up logic that people have toward animals. I have no problem with using animals as long as their welfare is taken into consideration. I think we're already treating them far better than how they treat other cetaceans. No one intended for their well being to be jeopardized. Due to welfare concerns, wild captures have ceased. However captivity candidates can exist, such as rouge animals and those unfit for release. The aquariums still have a place.

Stephan Casey on September 22, 2014:

So we've established that Orcas can do things that we consider inhumane. Many people now think that capturing Orcas and keeping them in captivity is an inhumane thing for us to do. So now you've made a good point about how we should not idealize these animals as better than us. I agree with you but what is your standpoint on what we should do. If we agree that the whales are not more superior than us (at least from a cultural point of view) then we cannot use their actions as a defense for our own actions.

How are we striving to be any better as humans by saying look at the "orcas that spend a good 2-6 hours trying to separate a baby calf that the mother grey whale has carried." Okay, now so what? We shouldn't try and make sure that Orcas are treated better based on how they treat other animals.

You also stated that these animals do a lot of these things for fun and enjoyment. Okay. Now my question is. Do you agree with that from your own moral point of view? If not then how can you use it as an excuse to do the same thing when it morally contradicts your own beliefs?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 20, 2014:

Mike Carey-- I think the problem here is that you are taking this article too seriously :) Obviously an article where I rant about how much I love mosquitoes is not exactly what I would call 'scientific'. I was posing the logic 'if this is true, then this is true' here, although I can see how it might be confusing. Part of the reason that might be so is because when I wrote this I hadn't completely decided what MY beliefs on the subject were, but now I can more confidently state I do not believe any non-humans have 'morals'.

I wrote this to rant against people who glamorize dolphins and other non-humans. People only pay attention to the 'good' (i.e., things we culturally approve of and friendliness to humans), but with animals there is no 'good', or bad. People often praise animals for the most asinine things--animals not 'destroying their environment' or being cruel to other animals, ect. Not only is admiring animals for not doing these things dumb, but it's not even entirely true, as I've shown here. The killer whales do torture other animals unnecessarily. This is something I believe they are not aware of, and cannot be aware of. That is the introspective and progressive ability of a human.

Many of the things people HATE about humanity are present to a tee in animals. They do not alter gender roles. They can be cluelessly cruel to other species. They are selfish.

Only humans have decided there is something wrong with this and only humans are self hating and pointing to other species that epitomize what they hate as flawlessly innocent.

" For the most part, if not entirely, our sense of right and wrong is learned."

Of course! And all of our morality has a strong foundation in survival instincts. But it certainly doesn't END there, that is just its starting point. Whatever the morality rules might be, it is true that for all human species we have a conscious awareness of these rules and even more surprisingly, we can alter them, or they can vary by culture. Many social animals have an idea of fairness, but can they actually think about this? Their absence of language alone is enough to prevent them from taking conscious morality to the human level. They are stuck at their level of 'morality' that will only improve their fitness while many forms of human morality is contrary to evolutionary principals. That is because we are the only species with a will beyond the instincts we've evolved to improve fitness.

"This is why I inquired about your scientific credentials."

I have a bachelors in biology but that shouldn't matter. Not once did animal morality or anything else like this pop up in the curriculum.

"Science basically "asks" a question and uses facts to objectively find an answer. "

The question I ask is complex. What is going on in the mind of an animal? It's almost impossible to know the answer. But most, if not all of my advanced understanding of 'right and wrong' stems form language, which animals do not have when it is defined by 'limitless expression'. That's what makes them 'animals'.

Here is my riddle: If a dog could talk, what would it say to us? Answer: If it could talk, it wouldn't BE a dog.

"predators prey on young because they are easier to hunt and may very well become exhausted if they attempt to kill a larger and faster prey, such as an adult whale"

This article states that intelligent mammal predation is a 'cultural' choice. Transient orcas do not touch fish, or any other animal. Although residents have been documented killing porpoises and eating none of it. I got the information that only the whale's lip was consumed by a documentary. If my information is wrong it's because they told a half-truth.

"I don't know any of these people and I believe that they represent an extremely small percentage of the population."

This is actually complex. Many people SAY that they think animals/dolphins are smarter than humans, but I believe very few actually believe this in their heart (or they wouldn't be eating them, or treating them inferiorly in any way). Honestly, you've never heard this rhetoric?

"Why can't we learn to be more like them" (in the comment section of an animal being friends with another species)

"Human are dumber than animals because we are destroying ourselves"

"I prefer animals to humans because animals are unconditionally loving"

Ect.? It's that mentality I'm criticizing. I can start a poll on any of my articles asking the question, who is more moral? And put a dolphin and human as the two choices. I would bet money that dolphin will win by at least 60% of the votes.

Mike Carey on September 19, 2014:

I'm not too sure about that veracity you speak of. The problem is that your arguments are full of contradictions. I'm mostly referring to the notion that cetaceans have no morals yet you imply that they are evil because they kill other creatures for enjoyment without remorse and kill whale calves while not caring about the emotional pain they enflict on the mother. This suggests that they have a moral compass, albeit that it is pointed south. It also suggests that they have a great deal of awareness of their actions and choices. I actually don't subscribe to the idea that cetaceans have morals. I also give little weight to the concept of morals and ethics as attributed to humans. For the most part, if not entirely, our sense of right and wrong is learned. Mind you, I do not want to shift this to a spiritual discussion. But has it occurred to you that these morals are a means of instinctual self preservation. Killing each other can be considered to be counterintuitive to our survival. That is a very loaded concept, especially considering that, relatively speaking, we very recently had very different opinions of what is right and wrong in regard to human rights. If morality is an inherent quality that only humans possess then why do different cultures existing today have such different morals? Perhaps it is because these are simply taught and not inherent. I digress.

I find it interesting that you refer to people who think that dolphins are "smarter" than humans and become defensive, if not offensive, when someone suggests otherwise as if many people actually believe this. I don't know any of these people and I believe that they represent an extremely small percentage of the population. This all seems like a lot of trouble for a small fraction of people. Regardless, for you to dignify that type of belief with an intelligent discussion is futile.

My objection to all of this is ultimately the means by which you support your arguments. You use select scientific references to support your opinions while, in fact, your argument is the exact opposite of science. You have an established opinion and you look for evidence that supports it. Science basically "asks" a question and uses facts to objectively find an answer. This is why I inquired about your scientific credentials. Keep in mind, a couple of animal science classes does not constitute a credential. As a scientist I become annoyed when people misuse science. I honestly do not mean to offend. I am asking that you use scientific evidence only if you intend provide a scientific discussion.

A couple clarifications: predators prey on young because they are easier to hunt and may very well become exhausted if they attempt to kill a larger and faster prey, such as an adult whale. This happens throughout nature. It is virually common knowledge. It is not because it is cruel. If you feel better by sympathizing with the mother whale to demonstrate the evil motivations of killer whales, think about this. Wouldn't it be much worse if they killed the mother, in which case the calf would become abandoned and almost certainly die as a result? In addition, they do not eat just a few delectable organs and leave the rest for the scavengers. The killer whales themselves scavenge on the carcass over the course of several days after the kill. You should have followed through on that bit of information. A picture of a sinking whale sans "lips" is merely propaganda. Again....not science.

Lastly, help me understand why you constantly anthropomorphize whale behavior when you criticize others for doing the same.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 19, 2014:

Hey Mike, you should worry less about that and more about the veracity of what I'm saying.

Mike Carey on September 19, 2014:

I briefly tried to look this up before asking. I could not find anything. What exactly are your credentials in terms of biology, ecology, animal behavior, etc?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 16, 2014:

Alex, tell that to people who judge the cetaceans positively, calling their perceived peacefulness and behavior out in human terms and praising them. What you say goes for anyone. Maybe narcissistic serial killers think we're evil for being so ordinary and rule abiding.

Alex on September 16, 2014:

Yet another article where we push our human behavior and morality unto animals. Cetaceans are very intelligent yet they are so different in all aspects from us (culture, ecosystem, behavior, physiology, psychology, language, etc) that we can't even expect to understand their "purpose" for acting the way they do. Sure we can extrapolate and make certain educated guesses as to the "why" - taking into context the tiny snippets of scientific data we actually have, but from there to actually put a label of "good" and "evil" unto them is utterly nonsensical. Maybe Orcas think we're evil because we're so nice to each-other!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 02, 2014:

Right Jeremy, that's why we call people who commit a heinous act 'animals'. Then for some reason, people love to look at isolated (or modified by humans) cases of animals behaving strangely and say 'we need to learn from the animals' or something stupid like that. Relentlessly.

Jeremy Cook on September 01, 2014:

Ah yes. And don't forget about those war-mongering, cannibalistic hominids we call our closest relatives, the chimps.

I find it interesting that everything that we hold to be reprehensible in human nature, we find in the animal kingdom. Everything we find to be truly noble and redeeming, is really found only (I would argue) in human beings.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 29, 2014:

Anon: I don't think I was trying to argue who is better here, just that they aren't the pacifistic angels they are made out to be. They are animals, they can't really be responsible for having the 'correct' human morality. But of course, humans never hesitate to say they are better than us. No I do not believe they are as 'advanced as us', because if they were, THEN I could judge them. The point of this article is just to show the hypocrisy in how these people think. Since so many people keep bringing up Ingrid Visser as not being attacked, I'm taking it that she is one of the few people that do this, and from my knowledge, only swims with fish eating orcas.

Anon on July 29, 2014:

Your article fails to explain why humans are better than orca, as humans do much of the same. How can we even begin to judge these animals if we are waging wars, killing children, and slaughtering innocent people.

Also, the fact that some (maybe a few, maybe many) orca do this doesn't mean that all do - if they're just as intellectually advanced as us, doesn't that mean there'll be many personalities? That's only to be expected. For all we know, there are hundreds of thousands of orca out there, all with different personalities.


"It causes me great distress to see my equivalent of 'cute dolphins' being treated like garbage."

I don't know what you mean by garbage, but if you mean them being killed or swatted; your equivalent of a cute dolphin is a mosquito, which does not feel emotion or pain. If you mean that they're not liked, well, that's just people's opinions and you shouldn't take it too seriously.

And yes, most people observe orca from the safety of a sea vessel, be it a ship or a boat. But by far not all, and there has been lots of human interaction in the water with these animals. People have swum with these animals (take Ingrid Visser), rescued them from lifelines, kayaked alongside them, and never been attacked.

You come off more as a butt-hurt person to me. 'People dislike my favourite animal and thus I will dislike their favourite animal.'

The rest of your arguments come down to, 'because some orca show 'evil' behaviour, as humans do, it is okay to treat them all like shit'. (Like putting them in tanks and making them jump out of the water twenty times a day.) Well then. That's like saying, because Osama Bin Laden killed thousands of people in 2001, it's okay for me to run down the street capturing people and holding them captive in bathtubs for the rest of their lives.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 23, 2014:

No Nicole I am not calling them evil...that title was just to get your attention. If I thought they were 'evil', that would make them 'human like'. Only humans can be 'evil' because they can actually -understand- this concept of morality. This article is NOT taking a serious approach to the subject, parts of it are just joshingly making a point. I have a right to dislike cetaceans as do many people have an extremely dislike for animals that I love like centipedes and mosquitoes. It causes me great distress to see my equivalent of 'cute dolphins' being treated like garbage. I DO want people to stop applying human motivation on dolphins when it is convenient for them. An example, the fact that orcas do not kill humans in the wild is attributed to their 'kindness'. When killer whales do things that appear screwed up to us, they turn a blind eye or make excuses for it. Fact is, I have been witnessing that many people favor cetaceans because they perceive them to be 'special' in the ways I describe, and that contributes to people objecting to their captivity. This even occurs with renowned scientists. They all have bias when they conduct their research.

"And I'm sorry, but I rarely hear people say they are smarter than humans."

Really? That's all I seem to see. You probably aren't looking in the right places.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 23, 2014:

"So says you Tom Green, I beg to differ."

Rude? Uh, OK. I really don't see it.

"You don't understand animals or what I'm saying."

Sorry, that is what I believe. My point was not addressed at all and the person brought up examples of instinctual behavior that is not driven by any aware 'choice'. Therefore they did not understand animals or what I was saying.

"Maybe you think my mind isn't open because I don't agree with your feelings"

Nicole I have gone to great lengths to reply uninsultingly to comments like that and yet you still think they are rude? Why? I'm starting to believe that what's going on with you might be similar to what's going on with 'from Spain'. That is, you are threatened by what I'm saying, and your time would be better spent PROVING that I am wrong about my stated facts instead of accusing me of being uneducated. No you are seeing why I get 'short' with people. No one is putting their money where their mouth is, or actually SHOWING me why I'm dead wrong with irrefutable evidence. But I hear a lot of blabber about how wrong I am. It gets annoying. And this is my blog, I get to rant and rave if I feel like it. Who says I need to be professional?? It's my place to blow off steam and even better if people who are trying to take away my pets get pissed off.

"its based on some girl that has an exotic cat sitting on youtube and wiki all night."

He's not a cat! And I have amassed a nice collection of zoological literature. For whatever isn't covered there, there is Google Scholar.

Thanks Breck, at least someone gets it.

Nicole Woelfel on July 23, 2014:

It serves to disprove based on her opinion and a couple YouTube videos of whales killing other sea life? And yes, it does...the title calls them evil...her entire purpose is to demonize them. And I'm sorry, but I rarely hear people say they are smarter than humans. They are extremely intelligent, top 5 in most studies. The environment that most whales and dolphins are held captive in are extremely inhumane with zero similarities to their natural habitat. They are put on display for entertainment and given very little mental stimulation. Melissa's articles on dolphins are all based almost completely on her uneducated opinion. She thinks they are evil therefore they do not deserve protection or suitable living environments. Just because you have a parrot or snake doesn't make you an expert on exotic or wild animals. And just because you want a zebra doesn't mean you should be able to have one. Since humans are the most intelligent species of our planet we have a responsibility to protect our eco-system and environment... Just because a meerkat is cute doesn't mean you should trap one and keep it in your bedroom. Just because a whale is smart doesn't mean we take it from its pod, stick it in a bathtub and teach it tricks for its dinner.

Breck123 on July 23, 2014:

I think you misunderstood the point of the article. She is not "demonizing the animals. You see, one tactic anti whale captivity people will use, is telling people that whales are just as intelligent or more intelligent then humans. And they say that because of this intelligence, they are peaceful, loving, and morally better than humans. This article serves to disprove that.

Nicole Woelfel on July 23, 2014:

She sounds childish and there is little truth or proof of anything she is saying! She is making uneducated blog posts! I am not talking about pet trade, I'm talking about her demonizing these mammals and supporting their captivity based on her personal dislike for them as a species! I take issue with people spewing incorrect information on the world wide web and then others read it and take it as gospel.

Breck123 on July 23, 2014:

@Nicole Woelfel-I don't see how her comments were rude. I don't see how it's wrong to simply refute someone challenging your opinion. And it seemed like Julianna was provoking melissa. There is a difference between debating and being rude, and also, she has some good reasons for getting aggressive . It's people with this type of attitude that are threatening the exotic pet trade. Some people make quite ignorant comments( "DID YOU KNOW THAT YOUR BUDGIE WAS STUFFED IN A TUBE AND SMUGGLED FROM AFRICA??????????") Same thing goes for zoos. All these anthropomorphizing fools are making uneducated comments like this.

Nicole Woelfel on July 23, 2014:

The problem is you present your case as if you have facts backing your opinions. You say things with definitive tone. And I am referring to several of your articles on this topic when I say you call out PETA and other animal rights groups..... I am gonna go ahead and make a list of your rude comments that I can find just in the next 5 minutes. If you want to portray yourself as an educated voice on this topic you should probably consider a little more maturity in your comments to people that disagree.... and I agree with one of the commentaries on your rant about how much you hated BlackFish. Your title is very poorly chosen and your writing style is not very professional at all, plus like I said earlier, you have very few facts backing up statements you make. Oh, and by the way, that is an example of you being rude, you were rude to him for giving you good, constructive criticism. I am not an amazing writer, but I am great at public speaking, I do it for a living and make a lot of money doing so.... I still get feedback from peers and audience members... feedback is a gift, you are lucky to get it.

-Your Tom Green comment was slightly rude

-Julienna from 5 months ago stated some respectful points but disagreed and you stated she didn't know what she was talking about.... because you are an expert how?

-Your conversation with "Spain" made you out to be the childish one.

-Imsummer - that commenter was not rude, but because she had a different point of view and made a point you weren't aware of, you got short with her and once again, came across as childish.

I found more on other articles of yours and I don't feel like sitting here all night, re-reading these uneducated argument of yours. I just hope people reading this stuff realize it is not based in fact or actual research... its based on some girl that has an exotic cat sitting on youtube and wiki all night.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 23, 2014:

I don't recall mentioning PETA. Listen "dear", I don't see any comments where I was rude to someone unprovoked. That was made up in your head because you disagree with me. That horrific turtle video was condemned and the perpetrators are being punished for it. I wonder how often killer whales instruct their kin to not kill or torture other animals for non-food purposes? The point is that they are not 'pacifists'. There are many lies floating around that they are of some sophisticated 'intelligence' that keeps them from waring with each other, and other such nonsense. Cetaceans do not have languages. They possess communication abilities.

You are correct that (most of) these are my opinions, I don't see what the problem is with that.

NicoleT427 on July 23, 2014:

Actually it doesn't prove anything my dear. I'm trying to find out what makes you an expert on these topics. Most of your "articles" are basically your opinion with a few facts or pictures you found on google images. I read hundreds of your comments and you sound very childish with people that disagree with you.

And you say your article is about claims of pacifistic intelligence that you disagree with, but you use your opinion (in this piece and others) to say that what PETA and other organizations are doing to help with the issues of captivity is ridiculous. And your articles actually make it sound more like you want to demonize them rather than prove they are not pacifistic.

Plus, all the demonizing you do about these mammals hunting for other reasons than to eat is crazy! It is true that they kill other species and sometimes even their own but these cases are rarely witnessed compared to normal behavior, JUST LIKE IN THE HUMAN WORLD! People hunt animals just to mount them on the wall, they enjoy killing things and they sometimes even torture other animals or people before killing them. Hell, I just saw a disturbing video of 2 teenage girls trying to light their pet tortoise on fire, then when it didn't work, they repeatedly smashed it on the ground until it died.... they didn't eat it. That is extreme, but if you want to prove something about your opinion on dolphin's, you can't claim that their less intelligent or that they are evil because some of them do these sad and awful things. That argument points to a result that all humans are evil and unintelligent as well because some humans act in the same nature as dolphins.

Last, dolphins, orcas and porpoises do have languages. They have self awareness ,which is a sign of higher intelligence, putting them at the very top along with humans, apes and elephants.

And, I am not ok with the exploitation of any living creature.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 22, 2014:

I was pretty gracious to the commenters Nicole, unless they attacked me first. Calling me 'rude' just shows you are not having an accurate perception of reality. This article is about the erroneous claims of 'pacifistic intelligence' in cetaceans, not captivity. Not that I even believe pacifism is a sign of intelligence. I think all of those notions are silly. I also see little evidence that cetaceans are drastically more sophisticated than canines, which I'm sure you are OK with the exploitation of.

NicoleT427 on July 22, 2014:

Holy crap, you sound like an idiot and you are very rude in your comments to several of the readers for no reason. You literally disgusted me over my morning coffee. Maybe you should build a shed out in the wilderness and live with your beloved mosquitoes. Finding random videos of Dolphins attacking other marine life does not mean that they should be kept in small tanks and forced to perform for people. Live and let live, intelligent or not, forcing animals to perform for their food and keeping them in small confined spaces for their entire lives is evil. And guess what, I can find ten's of thousands of videos of humans attacking other humans or less intelligent creatures. What does that prove? That we should not be protected by laws? That we should be kept in cages? That we are no better than the mammals you are harshly judging in this shitty "article." You are absurd. I don't think the average intelligent person sees dolphins as God like creatures, we just recognize that the ones held in captivity for entertainment are being forced to live short, painful, mind numbing, horrible lives and it should be stopped.

Anonymous on July 21, 2014:

A friend once explained to me that dolphins, (bottle-nose dolphins) are evil. I actually agree with him, but I do not fully agree with you'll all of the topics in this article. He said that one reason they are evil is because they think that when we fall out of boats, it's a game. They think that saving us is just a game. Like they want us to fall out of our boats into the water. They also take down sharks. Couldn't they start pecking our boats, or even us to lead us to our deaths by pecking us. With orcas, you must keep an open mind. Yes they kill, maybe even for fun. But you have to remember there is no document of them ever killing a human being. None. I am huge on killer whales. I don't always love the way they act and I wish I could change it. But I can't. Because they are animals. We will never be able to make Mosquitoes drink something else. Just like we will never be able to stop orcas and dolphins from being vicious killers. I would say yes your article is correct about so many things but you also forgot the about how God made them to be this way. They can't change it. Neither can we.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 03, 2014:

Steve-- and when orcas kill things for non-food purposes and there aren't babies around, what's the excuse for that?

"orcas brain mass to body mass is bigger than humans so they ARE more inteligent than us"

Completely and utterly incorrect. According to such invalid logic, a tree shew is more intelligent than both humans and cetaceans. Before you assert some factoid you know little about, actually look it up:

steve on June 02, 2014:

the video about the orcas killing the dolphin but 'playin' with it before is just like what cheetahs do the catch live prey to train their young ones to hunt. they probably wounded it so that it wasn't able to hurt the small one.

i really don't think you are right because first orcas don't unerstand us (i agree) but we don't understand them, they can communicate detailed thoughts just by using a specific frequency something we can only interpret by some high pitched sound. orcas brain mass to body mass is bigger than humans so they ARE more inteligent than us, the reason they don't have super computers (yet) because they don't have hands and they can't really make things but they do have very smart and cunning ways to hunt . anyway i see where you're coming from but at some point you just have to accept that even though we have stepped on the moon and dominated the world we are not the wisest or most inteligent animal we just have HANDs withought tose we would be exactly where monkeys are its all im saying man...

Jess on May 25, 2014:

Interesting read. I am not a seaworld fan and I am anti-captivity for cetaceans... but I agree that the "omg dolphins are so amazing and pure" stuff is BS.

Dogs and cats kill/torture other animals unnecessarily. But I still care about the well-being of dogs and cats. The same goes for orcas. It doesn't matter if some of them are "murderers". They're too smart for a small tank. They are used to family units, not being split up. Their lives are worse in captivity and that's all there is to it.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 05, 2014:

Thanks Warhead

Warhead77777 on May 05, 2014:

One of the things I think we could work on is proving if all of these creatures behave like this or some of them do. If some of them kill each other and eat babies, we could lump them in with us. We could say they are as cruel as us, but without the mercy on other fronts. At the same time, if this was very common behavior then we could say that most male dolphins are rapists and so on.

The biggest issue seems to be in figuring out if some dolphins are evil or if most are evil. Some humans eat babies and others would die for strangers, are all dolphins the worse we could be or do they simply lack our best features. In other words, if there is no good dolphins are most of them gray or dark black hearted?

I think dolphins are like little children that grew up playing CoD from six and watching violent cartoons, they kill things because they are to stupid to know better. These creatures are smart enough to kill, rape, and murder...but I don't think all of them will ever figure out it's a bad idea. I f***ing hate drakes, they pull the same sh**.

I think it's dumb that one person told you to kill yourself just because you don't like these creatures. I also think it's a stupid that one of the commenters have no idea about the dolphin cult. I understood that animal cultures are a sign of intelligence, but I can't understand why that one person could grasp the idea that they are nothing to ours.

Another thing I hate about the comments is that people think it's stupid that you spent a few hours LEARNING SOMETHING and then TELLING US ABOUT IT. How is that a stupid thing? You are learning and we are learning? That's like saying the school system is stupid and scientists are stupid!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 19, 2014:

"Aren't we idiots?"

It's just that type of self-hating nonsense that would qualify a person for the label of 'idiot'. Your comment makes no sense.

Ummm on April 19, 2014:

Aren't we idiots? All humans are, and the OP personifies it. Don't mess with the food chain, don't mess with the Eco-system, don't mess with Earth. Rules to live. The OP has way too much time on their hands and if the worst thing in your life is the idea that fellow humans give too much credit to orcas and dolphins, then u gotta go meet some people.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 12, 2014:

Thanks Wensleydale! That's pretty much what I said about people who claim killer whales would never attack people.

Wensleydale on April 11, 2014:

One of the things that my animal behavior professor liked to impress on us was that we never see many cetaceans. They can be very hard to observe or study because they are nearly always in a place that is hard to observe (eg underwater, offshore, in the Arctic/Antarctic, etc). We barely know anything most cetaceans, killer whales included, so I think that saying that they never show aggression to each other is rather premature.

Love your articles, keep it up.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 07, 2014:

No Marco, you feel sorry for yourself because you have no words of substance to defend your emotional reaction to my words yet have a futile desire to bring me down.

Marco on April 07, 2014:

You are a very ignorant and pathetic person, I really feel sorry for you...

Frank on April 03, 2014:

People who think dolphins are evil are WRONG! So Im here to tell you some stuff about dolphins. Are dolphins meat eaters or plants? ( meat but they don't eat people though) What's the largest dolphin? ( orca ) what's the smallest dolphin? ( Hector's ) why do dolphins swim with pods? ( so If one gets sick or being attack by sharks then they will help if they can ) Dolphins can save people from shark attacks so you should like dolphins and that's not all dolphins are 2nd smartest animal in the world. So here are some facts about dolphins so I think dolphins are cool!

Danielle on March 12, 2014:

Switish, they actually do eat the seal after they're through 'playing' with it. I've seen the clip you're talking about and there are three or four different documentaries with the footage in it. So you can't be sure which one has shown only pieces. And they do actually release a seal later on the beach.

Which isn't to say I don't agree with you. I do. I don't think we should idolize these animals but I do think we should respect them as befits another living creature with high-intelligence.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 06, 2014:

Hi Switish, nature documentaries are the pits aren't they?

Switish on March 06, 2014:

I just watched a documentary by the BBC with Atteburough about coastlines and sea life. It showed some seals and their pups (who were practicing to swim on the shoreline) when an adult Killer whale propelled itself onto the shore and grabbed one of the pups. But it didn't eat or even kill it there.... It dragged it out to deep water (the pup can't swim) and played a game with its pack (I don't know what you call a bunch of whales together) where they taunted and chased it for half an hour, but even after the pup had died it didn't stop.... Oh no... What they did next astounded me.... They literally propelled its corpse over 2 meters into the air with their tails..... More than once.... They didn't even eat it! I swear I just sat at me seat for 5 minutes just staring at the screen in confusion after the programmer finished...... I mean that's not even hunting for food, sure maybe the chasing was teaching their young how to hunt but what the hell was the purpose of propelling it into the air?

Now I don't harbor any hate towards them or dolphins, but this idolizing thing needs to stop because what people are ignoring are the facts that they are actually incredibly similar to is in ways we don't like. So this article has a point...On a side note I don't agree with them being locked up.

Danielle Elizabeth on February 28, 2014:

So you're against the right of orcas and such on the basis that you don't believe that they are moral? That seems like a pretty sad thing. I don't believe that orcas or dolphins have the same or higher intelligences than we do. But that doesn't mean that they aren't smart, they have been documented to be self-aware. Not to mention the harms that captivity cause (especially in orcas) has been very documented: both mental and physical issues. Like the fact that they only live 20-30 years in captivity and yet they live close to 100 years in the wild. Or the fact that mothers and calves are regularly separated where in the wild they would be together all their lives. Or that they spend their lives in these tiny cages when they have been shown to swim hundreds and hundreds of miles everyday in the wild. When it gets down to it, caging these creatures solely for our own enjoyment is cruel. It doesn't matter if they're moral or have human-like intelligence. If we are so moral as humans then we should not be taking part in this activity.

Oh and orcas don't have to kill porpoises and other things for food, no. But humans don't have to eat veal (an incredibly cruel practice) and yet we still do.

Julianna on February 19, 2014:

That's exactly my point. Is it a stretch to compare dolphins to ants though? Why do you hold dolphins more 'responsible' in their actions, when no matter how 'intelligent' we think they are they can't and never will share our ideas or ethical views. Like ants, they do what instinct tells them, whatever the reason. Not just for food, survival, etc. but for reasons we as humans can not understand or relate to obviously.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 15, 2014:

Julianna, the point is that -animals do not have morals-. Ants don't have a choice in their actions. It is an evolutionary evolved instinct. They don't know what 'morals' are. Do their actions even result in any suffering? Probably not.

Julianna on February 15, 2014:

How exactly have I missed your point? I'm sorry but I'd have to say I do understand animals, at least more that you do. My point was that I don't put keep animals to my moral compass, which clearly cannot be said about you. Sorry my mistake, ants don't enslave their fellow ants they enslave other insects. They use them like we use cows. Look it up.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 14, 2014:

Julianna you've completely missed the point. I'm aware of all those facts, which have been simplified by you. You don't understand animals or what I'm saying. And ants do not 'enslave' their own kind, how silly.

Julianna on February 14, 2014:


I've been reading your articles for some time and they are quite conflicting.

I just mean that it seems as if you are an 'animal' person, yet you write articles (for want of a better word) 'hating' on certain species.

Why is that? What did dolphins/whales do to piss you off? Oh yeah, they don't have the same moral code as you, I forgot. Well, here's a list of animals and insects you can base your next articles on:

Ants (you like insects right? Well I think it's time that you started hating ants) did you know ants enslave their own kind?! They also kill each other without cause.

Lions (well you already think domestic cats are evil, so this shouldn't be too much of a leap for you) male lions sometimes kill their own offspring just to mate!

Birds (well the cuckoo birth specifically) this bird abandons it's children in another birds best after it knocks out the other eggs. Abondonment AND murder.

Chimpanzees (our closest relative. I'm honestly surprised you haven't tackled this one yet. Or maybe you have and I've failed to notice) chimps also kill their young and other chimps for no reason.

I think I've made my point. Animals do not share our moral compass. Does that mean we can't admire them for the beautiful, intelligent and amazing creatures that they are? I think not.

I'll leave you to the above list. You've for a lot of work to do. Good luck trying to make people hate ants.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 10, 2014:

So says you Tom Green, I beg to differ.

Tom Green on February 10, 2014:

Your logic fault:

Humans have an inherent desire to glamorize dolphins

I often hear the claim,

A."dolphins are definitely smarter than humans".

B."Dolphins are smarter than some people".

C. "Dolphins are too smart for captivity".

A and B are rarely claimed.

C. The right to imprison others is based in the intelligence of the oppressor, not in the emotional awareness and sense of self/family of the oppressed.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 06, 2014:

Thank you Dave, if you thought that was bad, you should see some of the comments of hers that I deleted: "Please delete all of my posts, I don't want to be associated with this type of racist content. Thanks"

This isn't the first time someone has brought up race after viewing my little avatar (the last time involved the indoor-outdoor cat debate, believe it or not, comparing indoor cats to keeping humans as slaves and my pet keeping as a mental predisposition due to my 'heritage'). Perhaps I should replace it with the pic of my dog again, lol.

Dave on February 06, 2014:

Genevieve, your entire premise is flawed if you automatically assume that we hold it that everyone has ‘natural rights’, such as a right to life. Not everyone believes this to be an objective fact; it’s just a fact that we’d get along together better if we decided that human beings shouldn’t be killed without a good reason. This interpretation of natural rights could depend on whether you’re religious or not. Asking whether or not Melissa has done anything to stop genocide, murder, rape, and theft is an absolute non-sequitur. What if she has? Even if she hasn’t she still considers all of those things to be morally aberrant acts. Your snide comment doesn’t add anything to debate and shows how demented your sense of reason is.

On your point about the killing of baby whales… The difference between humans and killer whales is that humans can actually grasp the moral implications of killing another being that’s just as intelligent as they are. Orcas just see the baby whales as an easy target for food. Humans have the capacity to judge their actions right or wrong while whales don’t pursue this debate, which is why infanticide is considered morally wrong even in cultures that developed isolated from the West.

Funny you should bring up how African slaves were made to work, in institutes in Hawaii; captive dolphins have the ability to go out into the sea on their own without leashes or any binding devices to roam on their own. They don’t travel too far and regularly return to their pens when their trainers come back with dinner. Why do dolphins do this? It’s because they value security and comfort more than some flimsy concept of liberty.

No, dolphins do not have the “ability” to be cruel; they naturally are ‘cruel’. Bottlenose dolphins regularly kill calves in order to make the mothers sexually receptive again. This is observed in other species such as lions where the head of the pride will kill every cub that isn’t his to make the females go into estrus. This isn’t an ‘ability’, it’s a standard practice in the animal kingdom.

Do killer whales and dolphins fulfill some necessary niche in the food chain? The killer whales you mentioned that eat fish are residents who exclusively eat Chinook salmon. Already the number of killer whales in the region is dwindling because they don’t have enough to eat and are resistant to eating other forms of salmon or fish. Who are the culprits in this case? Obviously the humans in BC and Washington State who fish commercially and recreationally for Chinook salmon, competing with killer whales. In other areas of the world, fisherman will regularly kill killer whales and other dolphins species because they eat too much of the fish stock. This shows that these animals no longer necessary for sustainability.

And honestly how disgusting do you have to be to bring a person’s skin colour/race into the debate to make a point? Melissa wasn’t born into the Antebellum period or the subject of a slave raid into Africa. Comparing the way we treated blacks to the way we treat animals shows how callous you are considering the effort Melissa has made to point out that animals aren’t equivalent to humans. Olaudah Equiano would agree that you’re just doing it to get a rise out of Melissa.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 01, 2014:

Don't quote me a definition of 'accepting'. It has varied meanings. I can debate the comments as I see fit.

from Spain on February 01, 2014:

No Melissa, by "accepting" you (taken from the Oxford dictionary) "tolerate or submit to (something unpleasant or undesired)", agree: "have the same opinion about something". For you it is unpleaseant and I accept that. But don't say "The REAL reason..." This is YOUR opinion. From all your points I can accept that you don't like them, but I don't think all of that makes them evil, is nature, just like lions and other predators. Only that orcas maybe are more evolved than other predators. Evil (for me and is only MY opinion) are humans as a species. Individually, is another story.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 31, 2014:

By 'accepting' them I have to agree with them, right?

from Spain on January 31, 2014:

It's not because I don't agree with you, as I told you "you don't like orcas, no need". I don't like mosquitoes, but that doesn't make me wanna eradicate them from the planet. But from all your replies, seems that you don't accept any comments against your point of view. You are trying to convince that they are evil!

Tim on January 31, 2014:

I really like this article Ms. Smith :-). But I don't think you should base your prejudice against orcas because of the appraisal of other beings, lol. Give them a chance :-). I agree with maybe everything you've claimed in this article, but I still love Orcas. I think they're very intelligent, have a high level on self-consciousness and self-awareness, very comparable to the human. I've done some research on Tilikum, and find him to be very interesting. It is belief, that he was very well aware of his importance to the Sea World organization. I think after his first kill, he realized that he could commit a vicious crime and get away with it because of what he was worth. I think he understood that humans were incapable of breathing under water, hence dragging them down to the bottom of the pool. I also believe that he took pride in these kills, how else would you explain his flaunting around the pool with a body on his back for everyone to see it? I believe they think, similar to humans, which is what makes them extremely dangerous, and they understand that we think similar to them, which could possibly explain why in the wild they stay the hell away from us! lol. And on top of that, they're LARGE!!!! But thank you for the post!! I enjoyed it!! :-)

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 30, 2014:

Maybe you think my mind isn't open because I don't agree with your feelings.

from Spain on January 30, 2014:

I just found this article and I tried to read all the comments. Melissa, I understand you don't like orcas, no need, but honestly, I think you should do a bit more research on animal cultures and open your mind a little bit.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 20, 2014:

Nuh uh.

Gen on January 20, 2014:

The feeling is mutual. Now remove all of my posts from your page, please.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 20, 2014:

Boy did I waste my time responding to you or what? Never again.

Gen on January 20, 2014:

No- that is not the only piece that's relevant to BM. Your obsession with language as what makes human unique, your timelines, and well general lack of respect towards other living things. If you can comprehend what you read, you would see that BM is the Foundation of your arguments, i.e the school of thought from which all of your other thoughts are being found, i.e discourse (do you know what that means? look it up).

you want to continue to use a racist ideology... that's on you.

BUT Maybe next time you should stop regurgitating what some old white asshole friend of yours tells you and do a little homework for yourself. Unless of course, you don't mind spreading racism all over the internet?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 20, 2014:

@ Gen

"Whatever the case may be for the dolphin's unique characteristics, I often see people misunderstanding evolution, believing it means that animals are constantly 'advancing' (I call it the 'X-men theory', this movie/comic book perpetuates the same mindset). No they aren't, they are adapting to their environments. Cetaceans have held the same level of intelligence for millions of years. Human modernization as we know it occurred a mere 50,000 years ago."

Amazing how you read a bunch of information in this sentence that simply isn't there. The fact is, the first sentence here pretty much shows I do not believe in the idea of any animal being 'more evolved' than another. I wrote that human modernization occurred 50,000 years ago, not 'intelligent humans emerged 50kya'. Nowhere did I state that Homo sapiens came to be 50,000 years ago. Both humans new and old were intelligent. Were I to time travel 200,000 years ago and steal a human from this time period, I would raise it to be just as intelligent as humans today. This is not the case with any dolphin, gorilla, or elephant. Case closed.

Gen on January 19, 2014:

Okay,I will do my best to explain- in several of your articles and posts you claim that one of the main reasons why humans are superior to animals is because of their use of language, and their cognitive abilities that relate to language. (I believe you would agree with that).

THEN, I saw in one of your posts where you tried to use scientific data that you said modern humans have been here since 50kya or "at least 40kya" or something similar to that. You said that dolphins brains have not changed for millions of years, whereas human brains have changed within the above stated time period (50kya).

(This is not true. Modern humans have been around for 200ky. The idea that we are "newer" that there was a cultural revolution 50kya or the "great leap forward" as you called it, is a racist belief system couched in scientific language to make people think its legit...It's all in the article- you will see if you read it. 50kya is when modern humans migrated to europe- so it is an argument that our ancestors in Africa were not intelligent, but only the "european blend" are intelligent)

Both of these two statements are the exact theory called behavioral modernity (easy and pretty accurate lookup at wikipedia). Behavioral Modernity, as a theory, also says that this is why humans are unique, which is another cornerstone of all of your articles.

Basically, I don't know if you realize this is or, but your beliefs about human capabilities and culture as well as your beliefs about animal intelligence and capabilities = Behavioral modernity theory.

Now, I am asking you to read that article about behavioral modernity theory (the premise or foundation of all of your arguments), so that way you can see the illogical, unscientific, and racist implications inherent in behavioral modernity theory...which is the basis for your arguments (whether you realize this or nor I am not sure). ...

Sorry, kinda written all over the place- make sense?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 19, 2014:

Gen, I'm going to have to ask just what the hell you are talking about?

Gen on January 19, 2014:

I just don't understand why you would support a theory like behavioral modernity when its root are racist in nature, indicating that only europeans 50kya were capable of art and language whereas previous modern humans in africa were incapable of this, which is not supported by the archaeological record and is a theory proposed by eurocentric racist thought. Furthermore, all of your posts are based on this theory particularly the piece about humans being "unique" but what the theory is really saying is that only white european humans are unique. It doesn't make sense why you would support and use this theory in any of your arguments.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 19, 2014:

I read everything Gen, that's how I decide if I'm posting it or not. Your link 'proves' nothing. It shows supporting evidence from a few people's interpretation of their anecdotes with one or two animals. That does not impress me. Considering the numerous apes in captivity I would like to see a larger sample size. It also has a well-known animal liberation philosopher's name attached to it. Obviously, I would expect extreme bias in this study, and their claim that language is not a definable concept is not validated or explained. Did you even READ your second link? It totally agrees with what I'm saying, even in the opening sub title!

"How so? I have formal training in the fields that we are discussing- you don't."

You should realize that this makes you look bad. When I back people into a corner with my arguments they sometimes flash their credentials at me as a last ditch effort for validation. You should never try to 'credential' yourself out of an argument. If you fail, it just means either the 'training' you received was ineffective or you just don't have the ability to apply your learning in the real world. Accusing me of being a hoarder or telling me to 'try reading a book' just makes you sound bitter.

"I ask you, how did you learn to read and write?"

Nice try, but I can use language without reading or writing. I learned my spoken language by absorbing what my parents and others say. It is completely impossible for an infant not to learn language when surrounded by language-users. If I take any infant animal and raise them, this does not occur.

"Primates really struggle. If you try to help them, and you try to cooperatively communicate to them about the location of food, they're completely flummoxed. They don't understand."

"So, we were able to show that on the types of tasks you give a child, okay, not particularly on language, but on cognitive processing, on number tasks..."

" Though impressive for their own species, their intellectual talents are no greater than that of a human toddler. Our brain is, of course, capable of art, poetry, philosophy, mathematics, technology."

"Well, besides us, chimps and bonobos are the animal kingdom's top linguists, capable of learning sign language, but very slowly. And there are other tests where dogs perform much, much better than apes."

--your own link.

"For example, infanticide, capital punishment, war, murder, some people eat cows, some don't, some eat pigs, some don't (kinda similar to the different cultures of the orcas whales)."

You didn't address what I said either. Human morals are -understood-. They can be communicated about, challenged, and modified. This occurs because of language. It is more complex than innate empathy, fear of the repercussions of deviance in a hierarchy, and other natural mechanisms.

"Someone in an earlier post wrote of Helen Keller- she used sign language-"

Helen Keller's sign language use was no less sophisticated than our spoken language and is capable of limitless expression. The sign language use of the language-trained gorillas and bonobos IS much less sophisticated and NOT capable of limitless expression. It's that simple.

Gen on January 19, 2014:

You're right, I have made several posts that you have deleted. And I have made several lengthy posts, but not any longer than your articles, that is for sure. People take the time to read your articles so you should take the time to read their responses. Honestly, I do not care if you delete, I prefer that you simply read them. I don't need an audience.

In response to your post, here are some articles that prove my comments. Do you have any?

Also, you say that I have discredited myself. How so? I have formal training in the fields that we are discussing- you don't. You use inaccurate facts to support your ideas and I am calling you out on them. For example, modern humans have been around for a lot longer the 50k years, fact I'm pulling from your article. Look at any anthropology textbook and you will see this.

As for the morals comment, you completely mistook and twisted my remark. Try reading closely next time. You claim that animals do not have morals. Well, what I am trying to say is that human beings within and between cultures also have various different morals and expectations for others. For example, infanticide, capital punishment, war, murder, some people eat cows, some don't, some eat pigs, some don't (kinda similar to the different cultures of the orcas whales). I don't need scientific proof for this, it is a well known fact that different cultures have different morals. Try reading a book.

As for the language piece that you are so hung up on. Language does not need to be written or spoken for it to qualify as language. Someone in an earlier post wrote of Helen Keller- she used sign language- similar to greater apes that I have posted about for your reading pleasure.

Here is an article on animal language

You say there is a big difference between a dog learning how to sit with command and people understanding language. You are correct. No one is claiming that dogs are self-aware or that they have complex language systems. They don't. People are claiming that other complex animals, great apes, orcas, dolphins, elephants, have the ability to communicate complex thoughts. As for the whole idea that they are not smart because language has been "taught to them..." I ask you, how did you learn to read and write? Did you not attend school? Or did you teach yourself how to read...I don't think so. You have a very limited understanding of the nature of things, which is fine. No one knows everything, but please stop going around and posting your opinion pieces under "scientific and education" because they are anything but.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 19, 2014:

Yes, I left up your first lengthy post to reply to you. I don't feel like addressing everything in that post or the others when you've already severely discredited yourself. Try condensing your multiple posts and I might feel more inclined to address them. There is no science in your replies. I'll provide some more examples:

"our morals are simply social hierarchies and systems, just like all other animals"

No they aren't. Our morals are actually 'understood', and require reason. An animal has an innate sense of how it is expected to behave within natural conditions. That does not mean that our natural roots have no say in our modern behavior (i.e patriarchy), but we can make alterations as we create the logic for doing so.

"chimps and gorrillas have used lexicon blocks to create new sentences that they were never exposed to by their trainers. dolphins have created new tricks..."

They still do not use language. They have experimentally learned to use crude aspects of a language -taught to them-, but do not use a language (limitless expression) in experimental conditions or naturally. You cannot be a language user by utilizing parts and not the whole. Such as a dog understanding to 'sit'. That is not real language use. Neither is constructing something to the effect of 'ball-bring-hoop'. That is a system with a finite expression capability. You should probably post the links of what you're referring to for a more in depth reading.

Genevieve on January 19, 2014:

What I find interesting Melissa, is that you leave up the post where I call you an animal hoarder, but take down the post where I rebut you're entire argument fact by fact several supporting details. It must be nice to take off any post you want to make yourself sound better. I wish I could take down your entire hubpage, but I don't because I recognize that you have a right to make your statements, just as I have a right to make mine (hey were talking about rights again).

Your arguments are incredibly unclear, jumbled, and frankly a mess. They don't make sense, why? Because you are so blinded by your exotic animals that you cannot make sense out of the a b cs

If what I said was so wrong, then you would want everyone online to see how stupid I sound and you would have rebutted my argument. Instead you deleted it, most likely because you have nothing left to say. Nothing that I posted was derogatory in nature or unfair in my conclusions. You call people stupid, which I had not even done, maybe if I would have you would have left my post up?...

Also, I see that you have a Q&A on your blog arguing that people shouldn't be able to take other peoples blogs down because they have misconstrued what was said. Case in point. In fact, in my writing I used clear logic, research, and inferences based on that logic. There was no hate speech or anything derogatory- you yourself claim you own exotic animals and are biased. AND you left up the comment where this was stated, but took the scientific one down. NICE MOVE MELISSA.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 19, 2014:

Genevieve, yes I am biased, just like you are. I have a belief and I seek to support it. It's not a fanciful, unsubstantiated belief like believing dolphins to be smarter than humans is. Your post is vindictive in nature so I have removed the rest of your posts, unfortunately. You have no evidence to claim that I am an 'animal hoarder'. I think that you should know that if I'm going to take time out of my day to reply to your many posts you should not open it with such an insulting remark like that. My articles consist of me using my own brain and reason to draw conclusions, often those that many people don't want to hear. No one wants to hear 'humans are smarter than all animals', even if it's true. They find it to be bigoted. These small details are important to me. Many people are allowed to get away with saying ridiculous things like this, but I'm always expected to post extensive references when I state obvious things. Throw 'humans smarter than animals' into the Google search and tell me how many sites pop up that support the things I say. It is nothing other than political correctness gone awry. Your interpretations of what I write are flat out wrong. Here is one example:

"No- you clearly indicated in your articles, not just this one, that dolphins and orcas are not smart and are not self-aware/reflecting."

This is taken from my article "Dolphin Intelligence: Should They Have Rights?"

"Exhibiting self-awareness is probably the most essential cognitive attribute that cetaceans, elephants, and great apes possess, and it is often touted as a reason why it is wrong to keep such animals in captivity. Lori Marino used mirrors to prove that the animals possess the ability, revealing that dolphins, just like great apes, respond to their reflection the way human children do. The 'mark test' was used to prove that such interactions were not deceptive; when a mark was placed on the animals being tested without their knowledge, they utilized the mirror to further inspect it."

Your conclusions are fabrications that your sentiment is feeding you.

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