Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Katie Couric covers the Taiji Dolphin Controversy; more on cetacean intelligence

Today, Wednesday, January 29, 2014, Katei Couric interviewed three documentary filmmakers and journalists about the Taiji Dolphin Controversy, about the practice of capturing dolphins in a secluded cove near the coast of Japan (interview video here)  This problem had already been covered in 2009 by the film “The Cove”, reviewed on the Movies blog Aug. 7, 2009.

The journalists explained that the Japanese claim that this is tradition, but in fact it did not start until 1969.
Dolphins (including orcas) may be the most intelligent animals on Earth besides man. Only man, elephants, and dolphins can recognize their own faces in mirrors.  The development of dolphin intelligence in an environment so different from man’s gives support to the idea that intelligent life naturally evolves in a hospitable planet, given enough time and stability. But there are some scientists who play devil’s advocate with the claims of dolphin near-human but alien intelligence, as in this blog post on Discover.  BBC has a report on the question, partially available on YouTube with Atten borough:

PBS aired a NOVA special with de Graase Tyson about dolphin intelligence, complete video here
I also recall a novel “The Day of the Dolphin” by Robert Merle, about using dolphins in spying during the Cols War, in the 1970s.  There was also a dolphn character in the 1990s series "Sea Quest DSV" as well as the popular earlier series "Flipper".  

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