|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Humans have had a long-standing relationship with the smaller cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) often based on their curiosity and willingness to approach and play around human boats. Documentation of their habit of bow-riding relatively fast or larger ships goes back to at least greek times, along with stories of them helping stranded or drowning men (which has some basis in fact). However, humans have also historically hunted them for food (for an abstract of the history of hunting bottlenosed and river dolphins in latin america, see Romero, A.; A. I. Agudo & S.M. Green. 1997. Exploitation of Cetaceans in Venezuela. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47:735-746 - the abstract can be found on this website: http://www.clt.astate.edu/aromero/new_page_158.htm Japan has also had a long history of hunting dolphins and whales for food, and there is a summary of some of this historical information on this web page: http://www.kanazawa-med.ac.jp/~hum-sci/iruka-e.htm While most nations have signed a moratorium on whaling, several nations, including Norway and Japan, continue to hunt both small and large cetaceans, ostensibly for "research" purposes, but with the bodies used for consumer products such as pet food after the research is completed. For those nations who adhere to the moratorium or have more stringent national restrictions (such as the US's Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 - see the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's web page for a full description of the MMPA) http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/laws/MMPA/MMPA.html dolphin capture is highly restricted - even capture for zoos, parks and aquaria is usually limited to maintaining animals that have been rescued (from strandings, injuries, etc) rather than sought out for display purposes. Actions by parks and aquaria in obtaining wild dolphins from countries which do not have such have yielded severe criticism, such as the recent attempt to gather a number of dolphins for Mexican aquaria by paying fishermen in the Solomon Islands to catch them. A mexican business consortium offered local fisherman ~$400 for each dolphin they catch, when though each is sold for about $225,000 to the dolphinaria. Here is a fact sheet from the American Cetacean Society on the event http://www.acsonline.org/issues/captivity-swim-with/SolomonIsl-dolphins.html
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