Is It Ethical to Kidnap One Dolphin to Save a Whole Pod of 150?

Is it ethical to kidnap one dolphin to save a whole pod?

Knowing the outcome may help answer the question: the first-of-its-kind rescue, conducted in early February, succeeded, and the juvenile was released back into the pod afterwards.

Nearly 150 dolphins were milling about in shallow water, in grave danger of stranding on the shore and dying — one pod member already had. Rescuers came up with a novel idea: take a young dolphin from the pod into deeper water, hoping that the pod would follow her distress cries out of the dangerous shallows.

Rescuers counted on the group’s tight bonds and altruism when they captured the juvenile, betting that the whole community would come to her rescue. Fortunately for this pod, dolphins are as big-hearted as they come. They didn’t leave the calf’s mother to handle the situation alone, instead going en masse to save the little one.

In this video, Australian Department of Environment and Conservation officer Janet Newell holds the juvenile dolphin before the operation. After the rescue, the juvenile “was last seen swimming with the pod” from “a spotter plane.”

Dr. Naomi A. Rose, senior scientist at Humane Society International, told Take Part that the rescuers took the risk of injuring the juvenile or distressing her to the point of catatonia when they captured her, “but the entire group might have stranded, so it was a risk, but I think worth taking. The ethics are somewhat situational here—the greatest good for the greatest number.”

Photo credit: White Wolf Pack

Experts aren’t sure what is behind dolphin mass strandings. Rose says one theory is that the dolphins “get disoriented in shallow water or in geographically tricky areas. It is believed that in other [cases], when one or more members are already in distress, their group cohesion and altruistic tendencies are so strong that they simply follow the distressed member or members onto the beach.”

Future rescuers now know that, fortunately, dolphins will also follow pod members out to sea and safety.


Related Stories:

Baby Dolphin Rescued in Uruguay (Video)

Trapped Dolphins Rescued in Bolivia (Video)

10 Reasons Why Dolphins Are Undeniably Awesome



Nickihermes Celine
Past Member 3 years ago

thank you for sharing

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Mark Donners
Mark Donner3 years ago

This should be done to persuade dolphins not to go near that Japanese town of criminals who torture and butcher them. Also I think dolphins should be specially trained to sink Japanese boats wherever they find them.

Pamela W.
Pamela W.3 years ago

After you watch the video above, check out some of the other ones on offer (especially the dolphin ones) ...... they are really fascinating, especially the way they react with other species in difficulty !!!!!!!!!

Pamela W.
Pamela W.3 years ago

It had to be done, or the majority (if not all, including the juvenile) would have died ..... but I agree with Thomas B that this kind of thing should NEVER be attempted by somebody who is not qualified or, extremely knowledgeable about marine life !!!!!

Connie T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Ethical? It WORKED didn't it...

Ewelina Grobelna
Ewelina Grobelna3 years ago

It was a risk but it paid of with with a lot of lives saved! The poor distressed little one would have died there with the rest of the pod if not for this risky action. All of them woudl have died including the little one. Thank god it paid off.

Linda L.
Linda L.3 years ago

I'm so glad it worked.

Susan Griffiths
Susan Griffiths3 years ago

I agree with Kit S. "The little one could have died with the rest if the people hadn't acted."

Thomas Brueckner
Thomas Brueckner3 years ago

It was very risky but it has served its purpose.
I think it's ethical to save and protect 150 dolphins from death,by kidnapping one little dolphin,but with a little stress on it.I'm very glad to hear all dolphins are saved and the little dolphin is in good constitution.
But please never let do that someone who are not qualified of it!!