Rights for Orcas

loro park, orca, fish

By: Victoria

What We Can Do

There are many aspects that play into the role of the extinction of Southern Resident Orcas, all of which humans can be to blame.

One of the main sources of prey for these Orcas is the Chinook Salmon, native to the Pacific. Oceanic pollution caused by sewer drainage is affecting the Chinook Salmon habitats and causing the ingestion of poison, slowly lowering the number of salmon in the wild. Not only are the pure numbers of salmon lowering, the number of salmon that have ingested toxins are rising — causing Orcas to get poisoned when eating the salmon. Because of the affected Chinook Salmon population, the Orcas are slowly starving to death.

Not only are sources of food being destroyed, but the Orcas’ ability to communicate is failing. Orcas communicate through echolocation and noise pollution affects their ability to speak with one another and locate each other. When boats enter Orcas’ territory the noise creates a disturbance that makes it impossible for the Orcas to echolocate. Without being able to echolocate, the whales get separated from their pods, are unable to hunt for prey, and are unable to mate and therefore reproduce. With Orcas only reproducing once every 3-7 years, any disruption in their mating routines creates larger and more catastrophic effects in population growth.

These dangers draw the question: how can we save these orcas? This then summons the next question: do animals, like orcas, deserve legal protection and civil rights? I want to prove to you why it is that these living beings, with families, and communities deserve the protection of governments around the globe. It is my firm belief that the impact of the loss of this species will create a domino affect, greatly changing and altering the ecosystem as we know it today. But with the protection of global efforts through a treaty, these animals can continue to live their lives in the magnificent ocean. Without the cooperation of individual nations, more and more species are slowly dying out until they simply don’t exist on this earth anymore. It’s predicted that by the year 2100 almost 23% of earth’s natural habitats will be lost causing the extinction of hundreds of species. The diversity of life on this planet is what makes our world, our world. Without these species, humanity and human lives would greatly change and by that point the damage would be irreversible. Blanket protection of the natural world is the only way to prevent the future we are headed towards now.

Animals Deserve to be Happy

The only way to save the natural world from its bleak future is to give it the same protection that we give humans. BY withholding protection from these creatures of the earth, we are defining them as not worthy of staying alive, leaving them to fight for themselves. People spend so much energy to prevent injustices that occur to other people, why not fight for all other living beings on this planet? For the sake of humanity and the well-being of our planet, people need to consider whether they are comfortable with the consequences of destroying the natural world, and ridding it of hundreds of unique species. Humans are considered a higher species because of their dominance over the earth’s dominion, but does this not entail that we have a duty and responsibility over the protection and safety over this dominion? Or are humans simply going to destroy this planet in their fight for self-preservation?

Consider, Happy. An Asian elephant living in the Bronx Zoo is having her case of civil rights and protection heard before the New York Supreme Court. She has been separated from other elephants and is forced into solitary confinement in living conditions laughable to her natural environment. Happy’s case to the Supreme Court is a big step to help nurture the path of sentience and allow animals the basic right to live. Happy’s fight is the first step of this new movement, but it won’t be the last; and I want to be a part of that fight to better the lives of animals around the globe.

Life Deserves to Live

In an ever changing world, the law needs to change to keep up with ingenuity that happens every day. In order to protect the extinction of beautiful species such as the Southern Resident Orcas, laws need to be created to protect these animals and give them the civil rights and equality they deserve. In the creation of these new laws, we need to think about what defines life, and what makes a life worthy of protection. Without global civil rights to all forms of life we are saying humans are the only truly living things that are alive enough to warrant legal protection. But there are countless animal species that are far more developed than given credit to be. Animals form their own communities, they have consciousness, and care and feel for one another. 

Is this not the same definition of life that humans live under?

Where there are brilliant scientific creations every single day, we as a species must take time to think about how old and new walks of life will receive the protection they deserve. We have to change the meaning of life and guarantee a certain quality of life for all living things. Take Happy the elephant once again, Happy grew depressed in an unwelcoming environment unfamiliar to her and with a very low quality of life. How is it that Happy is any less worthy of legal protection than you and I?

Take into account the development of artificial intelligence in beings such as Erica. Erica is a highly developed robot who has humanlike characteristics and emotions. Erica is alive and needs to be treated accordingly.

It is beings like this that demonstrate why it is that the idea of life in our minds must be changed and adapted to this new world we live in. Global laws to protect all sorts of life including animals, environments, plants, and even creations like Erica are so important in this age. To protect all sorts of life forms is to maintain the beauty and uniqueness of our natural world.

Saving the Natural World

The creation of global law needs to happen and it needs to happen soon. Humans are slowly creating a more and more inhabitable earth for all of its creatures and they need to have their quality of life honored, respected, and protected. Legislation on a small scale is a good step because it is at least a step. But global treaties and a bigger movement is what needs to happen to protect earth’s creatures.

It is not just global protection that is what will save the natural world. What needs to happen is people need to change their mindset about how life should be lived and what life even is. Humanity is a species built on self-preservation. In this course, humans have been destroying the natural world and killing its residents. In order for any kind of global law to even work, people need to rethink what life is. I argue that life is the beautiful animals of the natural world who have communities and families and it is ingenuitive beings like Erica who have so much to offer humanity.

The first step to understanding what life is and why it needs to be saved is some sort of world-wide agreement that sentience deserves protection. One of the greatest battles of our time has been fought without fighting. Big corporations and small animal rights activists have been on opposing sides of this war, fighting for what they believe right. What neither side can understand is that a union and a truce is necessary. How can large conglomerates expect to make money when they have killed the world? How can animal rights activists fight for peace when they create nothing but conflict in doing so?

In order for either side of the war to get anything they want, both need to understand the importance and validity of an understanding, and that working together is stronger than fighting apart. To create this understanding and global law is the way that we can save our dying earth, and give to all forms of life the protection they deserve.

Did you know?

People like to blame big corporations and bad government for all environmental issues. The truth is that these are aspects to blame but there also lies fault within every person on Earth who fuels the causes of the aspects.

The military is a necessary organization that protects and saves lives. But in the process, did you know that navy ships and fighter jets are killing ocean animals such as orcas? Ships are bad enough by creating pollution in oceans and the engines disrupting orca echolocation. But the noise from fighter jets is so loud that it even affects orca pods that are 100 feet below sea level.

Everyday people are luckily becoming more and more aware of how their own daily  actions can affect all creatures of Earth. Fishing hooks and fishing lines are some of the main causes of strangulation in orca whales. People are disposing of their waste in the ocean as if it were a trash can and they kill innocent animals in the process.

The thought that most things you do are killing innocent creatures is an unsettling one. But ignoring the problem solves nothing. Ignoring the problem creates a cycle that just repeats the same deadly behavior over and over. To recognize the problem and create a solution is the only way to end this cycle.

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