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Free «The Ethics of Treatment of Whales in Marine Parks» Essay Sample


The creation of marine parks, an area protected for preserving particular habitat and animals that exist in it, is a standard way of saving endangered species. Moreover, the territories serve recreational purposes. Whales in marine parks around the world are a part of the multi-billion industry, which includes people with commercial interest and others that strive for protection of mammals. However, many critics argue that such ‘areas of captivity’ cause suffering of the intelligence and social life of whales. Just like any other type of captivity, suffering is an embedded factor. Ethical theories guide the society in doing the right while avoiding the wrong. The utilitarian approach posits that an action is correct if it produces the highest possible good against the bad. In essence, when taking a decision an individual should aim at maximizing the positive effect. Consequentialists on their part claim that the effects of the actions define whether the latter are right or wrong. The research study will include a review of the available literature on treatment of whales, the methodology used, an analysis of the findings, and a conclusion. Consequently, negative results are a product of unethical decisions, while good outcomes are a product of an ethical choice. The treatment of whales in marine parks gives rise to ethical issues that include injuries, whaling, unhealthy confinement, exposure to pollution, and general violation of the rights of animals.



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Purpose of the Study

The primary goal of this study is to examine the ethics of treatment of whales in marine parks. The result of this research will help to improve the understanding of the welfare of the mammals and what can be done to improve their lives in the parks. The available analysis of the ethical issues of handling whales in the marine parks is limited, which calls for more studies to enhance the knowledge on the issues. Therefore, this research study will help to expand the literature on the welfare of these marine mammals, thereby boosting the understanding of their rights.

Research Questions

The study will seek to address the following questions;

  1. What are the ethical issues that arise from treatment of whales in the marine parks?
  2. Do whales have rights?
  3. Are the rights of whales in the marine parks violated?
  4. What can people do to alleviate suffering of the whales in the marine parks?

Literature Review

According to Lemelin and Dawson (2014), marine parks can benefit the local communities in a way of encouraging them to support the preservation of whales.  Ethical issues consist in the implementation of a practical approach without compromising the lives of the marine. The use of conservancy areas for tourism introduces harm to the marine life, which is a crucial ethical concern to solve. The use of high-speed water vessels compromises the capability of the whales and the operators to avoid the collision.  Reducing the speed of the water boats, however, can affect whale watching enterprise profits. Quick moving enables easy access to cetacean habitation, which leads to more voyages throughout a day, hence attracting more clients and getting higher profits. The urge to earn more money without taking care of the marine life is an ethical issue that the management must take into consideration and make necessary adjustments (Lemelin & Dawson, 2014).

Parsons (2012) argues that whales in marine parks are under the protection from whaling, which helps in conserving their population. The author also contended that people ought to recognize the preservation of these mammals as an exceptional duty in conserving them and therefore respect them considering that they compose the natural environment. The AAZPA agenda also included the ‘Whales Alive’ global conference held in New England.

According to Kalland (2013), whales deserve similar rights to human beings due to their special nature in the oceans and seas. The author affirms that unique social life and intelligence of these mammals make them a species worth extra protection. Subjecting these marine animals to harsh life brings them a lot of suffering. Furthermore, the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (AAZPA) together with members of Hubbs-Sea World Research raised concerns on morals and laws governing the keeping of whales in captivity.

Moreover, studies on marine parks have indicated that whales change their behavior reacting to human interaction, especially watching. The sound of human beings and water-vessels scares them away. Beaked whales usual stay away from the areas with foreign noise and avoid echolocation (Houghton et al., 2015). The abovementioned interactions cause the changes in their acoustic, surfacing, group size, swimming behavior, communication, and changes in their direction. To protect the marine, the Australian government put in place regulations that ban ships to ply through the protected areas (Harvey & Caton, 2010). 

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Parsons (2012) observes that the dialogues about the welfare of whales in the majority of cases have certain constraints, regardless of the undermined termination of animal diversities, enervation of some species, and so forth. Nevertheless, the research has progressed subjective capacities among these mammals.

Lemelin and Dawson (2014) claim that person cetaceans have moral standing. Self-mindfulness includes self-recognize and entails the individual uniqueness people prize so much in ourselves. The rich inside world comprising self-mindfulness, multiple scholarly knowledge, and enthusiastic capacities also contains noteworthy powerlessness, full variety of feelings, and some physical damages.

According to Harvey and Caton (2010), people mistreat whales because the former see them as a source of income. Instead, humankind ought to view this species of animals as fellow creatures with equal rights and freedoms, self-governing, and organized social life that we have to respect and protect. People usually treat whales and impose some restrictions on them according to their own views that lack deep understanding of these mammals. Consequently, this affects the lives of the animals. Therefore, it is crucial to protect the natural habitat of sea mammals. 

Lopez and Pearson (2017) affirm that authorities involved in whale watching claim that they lack the resources for protection and that there is strict adherence to codes and regulation governing the treatment of whales in the marine parks. The stakeholders can attain education about whales through proper funding and measures aimed at enhancing awareness about the welfare of the marine mammals.  It is unethical to exploit whales for making profit without promoting research studies about these vital aquatic creatures. The people and organizations that run marine parks have the duty to create awareness of the whales’ needs and rights.  The public ought to understand the ecosystem, a natural world in which they live, and have a clear understanding of the life of whales. The animals need a natural habitat to enjoy their social life. Therefore, it is necessary to implement workable ethics while they stay in captivity.

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According to Report of the whale welfare and ethics workshop 22/23 March 2011, scientists use whales in marine parks for research purposes, which exposes the latter to more dangers and mistreatment. The International whaling community decries the use of whales for scientific experiments when there are alternative means to carry out the study without involving these animals.  There should be strict regulations on researches of whales in the protected areas aimed at preventing abuse and hurting them in general. The urge to exploit marine parks for making profit creates challenges for the welfare of the mammals.

The use of marine parks for tourism contributed to the discharge of contaminants such as PCBs and mercury that found their way into the whales’ bodies (Anderson, Waayers, & Knight, 2016). Toxic substances can lead to the death of the marine or cause stress. Continued pollution of the marine parks is a threat to the whales habitat. Consequently, there is a need to control the use of such marine parks to avoid more harm to the water mammals.

Research Methodology

The research will take place using qualitative methodology of study, which focuses on the secondary and tertiary material.  There will be a review of data about whale management in the marine parks to establish ethics issues concerning the approaches used. Peer reviewed journals and other scholarly works, online databases such as EBSCO and Jstor will be a basis for literature review.

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The secondary materials are mainly peer reviewed comprising information that is credible. The materials for study will be diligently picked from an avalanche of literature in the libraries.


Whale Watching and Accidents in Marine Parks

According to the study finding, treatment of these mammals in the marine parks gives rise to ethical issues about their safety. Whale watching sometimes leads to accidents that injure the animals, thus affecting their life and survival. The use of high-speed boats in areas inhabited by these sea creatures becomes a threat that ought to be eliminated (Houghton et al., 2015). The water vessels increase chances of injuries of the whales through collision, while the sound of the engines scares and stresses the marine life. Whales, like other animals, have rights that must be protected. The governments have to tighten the laws and regulations governing the management of whales in the protected areas to enhance the welfare of the marines. Consequently, marine parks management ought to impose strict regulations and codes to control the access and use of the areas where these mammals live.

According to the Australian Senate Select Committee, whales suffer various levels of stress when put in a controlled environment. Moving of whales from one area to another interrupts their healthy life, which is prohibited unless in the interests of the animal.  Captive whales are more vulnerable to ill-treatment by human beings than those from free areas are.  Marine parks provide restrictions on the movement of the mammals, which hinders their freedom. Consequently, there is a big effect of shifting the rules when managing whales in captivity. Stamation, Croft, Shaughnessy, Waples, and Briggs (2010) contend that the committee using scientific data has determined that whales suffer at varying levels of pain when in confinement. However, it is difficult to measure the degree of suffering that they feel, hence, there is a need to deepen into the issue.

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Harvesting of Whales for Meat

Human exploitation of whales and different restricted actions entail different sufferings. Hunting marine animals for meat deprives them of the right to live, hence, causing an unethical act. Marine parks exploit whale species mainly for profits without paying much attention to the wellbeing of these faunas (Hooker, 2015). People do not pay much attention to the questions of enrichment, awareness, and knowledge about whales as it contradicts the economic needs and desires of humans.

Utilitarian View on Treatment of Whales

According to utilitarian moral doctrine, the need to attain the highest conceivable good should guide human actions. The authorities have to balance and control the use of marine parks with whales. The stakeholders must observe the rights of the marine animals to prevent unwarranted harm of disturbances to their ecosystem. Therefore, when using the marine parks, the authorities should put a great emphasis on the protection of whales’ lives.

Moreover, utilitarian ethical view contends that human beings should not kill or make harm to whales except when it is the only option to satisfy human needs. It is evident that commercialization of whales is a challenge to observing ethics involved in the handling of these marine mammals (Kalland, 2013). However, humans have numerous options to do business based on unethical approach aimed at making whales as a source of income. The research study established that managing of the whales in marine parks has featured an immoral treatment of the animals, killing, and stress. The use of brutal means to harvest whales for profitable purposes presents a moral challenge that ought to be solved. Banning markets with whale meat can be a good step in combating injustices committed against whales in marine parks (Kalland, 2013).

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Moreover, allowing whaling in marine parks is unethical because it contributes to the insecurity of the mammals. Animals have a right for protection from excessive killings (Kalland, 2013). Secured areas should be free from exploitative economic activities that do not guarantee the sustainability of the ecosystem. Harvesting whale meat can be useful for humans, but at the same time, people should balance it and control to avoid compromising the sustainability of the marine ecosystem. Marine parks make it easier to access and capture whales, which raises questions about the ethics involved in confining them to these protected areas (Kalland, 2013). It is difficult to guarantee the safety of the parks with these mammals, especially because of the corruption and smuggling of whale meat.

Consequentialist Ethical View on Treatment of Whales

Consequentialism as a theory looks at the results or consequences of an act, in this case, subjecting the whales to the environment that endangers or disturbs their peace and life. The management of marine parks ought to consider a long-term effect of human activities in protected areas on the sea mammals. Allowing capture of whale from the parks for commercial purposes is unsustainable and entails brutalities, which interfere with the natural habitat and cause stress to the remaining animals. The killing of whales comes with a lot of suffering, which the IWC has opposed and called for the use of euthanasia in such process (Anderson at al., 2016). The use of painful methods to kill whales has negative effect on other mammals, and can lead to stress and feeling of insecurity.

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There is a great effect of pollution of marine parks by humans, which interferes with the life cycle of whales. Hooker (2015) contends that the use of speedboats, whose accidents lead to oil spillage and adding of foreign substances to the marine environment, is a health hazard to the mammals. The management of these areas have the moral responsibility to do everything possible to maintain the parks in their natural form. Changing the natural state of the marine ecosystem negatively impacts the behavior and lifestyle of the whales. New implementations force the sea mammals to adjust, which creates a strain on their part (Stamation et al., 2010). Therefore, it is unethical to change the environment, in which these mammals live.

Moreover, from the literature, it is evident that sound created by water vessels affects the whales. Consequently, the use of high-speed boats in marine parks creates disturbances to the marine life. According to Houghton et al. (2015), noise drives whales from their homes and affects their ability to locate mates. Foreign sound scares the marines, hence, creating a negative effect of the human and water vessels noise on the whales in marine parks. The mammals deserve to live in an environment that is free from human-made challenges such as noise and pollution (de Castro et al., 2014).

Unhealthy Confinement

The captive whales in the marine parks suffer significantly from their captivity. The restriction of the marines within a specified locality compromises their free movement (Anderson et al., 2016). Furthermore, displacing whales through whale watching tourism held in the marine parks has a direct effect on their life. The boats of tourists who want to watch whales sometimes collide with the marines, leading to injuries. This is a common challenge in areas such as the coasts of Hawaii and Massachusetts that have high traffic of whale watching water vessels. The human activities in the marine parks are a great challenge to the lives of the whales, which need strict control and balance to avoid interfering with their wellbeing (Lopez & Pearson, 2017).

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Furthermore, from the research findings, it is clear that humans compromise the marine environment denying whales their rightful ecosystem (Houghton et al., 2015). Each animal has a right to live in an environment that meets its biological and social needs. The multipurpose nature of marine parks makes them unsupportive of the liberties of the marine mammals. Little effort has been made to reduce the level of injuries and harm that whales in the marine parks are exposed to on a daily basis. Therefore, unethical treatment of whales in marine parks is inevitable, especially where there is a heavy presence of human activities. 

Laws and Regulations

A need to mitigate negative effects of boat-based whale watching has led to the introduction of rules and codes that guide marine parks use (Lopez & Pearson, 2017). The international whale watching codes and guidelines regulate the conduct of tourists and managers of the sites across the world. However, there are areas where people do not strictly observe the laws and regulation governing the treatment of whales. Consequently, this provides a loophole that allows for the mistreatment of whales in the marine parks.

The killer whales, Orcas, are held in marine parks across the globe for scientific, conservancy, and recreational purposes. However, the conditions in captivity present challenging results. The researchers do not pay much attention to the necessity to treat whales in a dignified manner. The current treatment inflicts injuries and limits their freedom, thus putting restrictions on their movement. The experimental use of whales includes research studies that involve direct interaction and capture, which sometimes leads to the harm and psychological tortures of the marine animals. Unethical handling of the whale is the primary cause of injuries and stress of the marine park mammals (Lemelin & Dawson, 2014). Improving government policies that govern whales in restricted areas is critical to addressing the abuse of their rights.

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The treatment of whales in marine parks raises several ethical issues that need to be resolved. The research addressed all abovementioned questions, in which it established that whales have rights that ought to be protected. Human activities in protected areas inflict suffering to the marine animals that are in confinement as identified in the study. They are ill-treated through pollution of their ecosystem, killing, accidents, injuries, capture for research studies, and restricted movement. Sound and chemical pollution of the marine environment, injuries, and illegal harvesting of the whale meat are ethical issues that can be addressed through enhancing laws and regulations that protect the marine animals.


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