"Whales have become newly symbolic of real values in a world environment of which man is newly aware. Whales live in families, they play in the moonlight, they talk to one another, and they care for one another in distress. They are awesome and mysterious. In their cold, wet, and forbidding world they are complete and successful." Victor Blanchard Scheffer
What Do Humans Have In Common With Whales?
While humans and whales are not the same in many ways, research suggests they have many things in common culturally, emotionally and physically. As research continues, more similarities may be discovered. Having knowledge that whales have skills, including social skills, can give us more appreciation and compassion for whales and a desire to protect them. While we still have more knowledge to learn about whales, humans are also still learning about themselves. Knowledge can be a powerful tool to spark interest in finding common avenues to assist whales.
Animals have been a part of human culture and society since animals were painted on cave walls and the animal kingdom allowed humans to gain awareness of our world (Pschera et al, 2016).
While animals are not human, they have similarities to humans (Pschera et al, 2016). Whales and humans are both mammals (The Marine Mammal Centre, n.d.) with whales being person-like beings in terms of their mental and social capacity because they have:
- enjoy social interactions
- have a capacity for suffering and
- are involved in a wide range of experiences and activities (Wichert el al, 2016)
- with multi-layered communication ability (Wilke, 2019).
Whales can communicate and behave in ways humans may find endearing, such as singing (Herman, 2017) that can be an indicator of the health of a whale due to the energy it takes to produce sound (Root-Gutteridge et al, 2018). Whales whisper between mothers and calves to communicate safety from predators (Morell, 2017).
Howard (2019) suggests whales can suffer from PTSD like humans due to distress and depression from traumatic events they experience, with orca whales, for instance, having an advanced form of social behavior who develop deep family ties with their pods.
- life spans similar to humans
- feed at the same trophic level as humans
- get exposed to similar pollutants in their food source and
- have social intelligence and
- have social groups like humans (Zhu et al, 2019).
Animal anatomy is similar to humans in that we both have:
- eyes (Deluliis and Haddrath, 2017).
A blue whale’s genome has “three billion pairs of bases” which is just lower than that of the genome of humans and blue whales having 44 chromosomes with humans having 46 (Deluliis and Haddrath, 2017).
Video Link: What Sperm Whales Can Teach Us About Humanity | National Geographic
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