Eating Flipper

I know that it is immoral and all, but I was wondering if dolphin has decent nutritional value. Would it be better than tuna? Would we be better off eating tuna-free dolphin in a can?

Leave those thalidomide babies alone!

:: Ducks and runs, then runs back. ::

I’d imagine dolphins have a fairly decent nutritional content, at least as good as the fish they eat. They have plenty of fat, as all aquatic mammals do, and muscle, so I’m guessing you could do a lot worse than dolphin.

/minor hijack

are there any cultures which regularly (past or present) practice dolphin eating?

I know there are several which routinely eat whale…

What about seals? I’d imagine they’d be a little similar to dolphin.

I don’t know how they taste but sure that they are pretty good for you.

Why is it immoral? Morals are usually a function of religion, is there any religion that makes it immoral?

Most people would consider it immoral because dolphins are intelligent. Morals aren’t always based on religion, you know.

In the west, humans generally avoid eating intelligent creatures. Sure, there are cultures that eat monkeys and dogs; but many people find the practice abhorrent. A dolphin or porpoise is an intelligent creature. Besides, no one wants to eat Flipper! (Although eating Bambi is fine.)

I remember reading a book by Carl Sagan – I think it was Billions and Billions – where he wondered about animal research. He was dying of cancer, but he believed when he wrote the book that he was being cured. Having seen a gorilla (Koko?) using sign language, he faced a moral dilemma: Animals have feeling, but experimentation on dogs and monkeys was saving his life (he thought). So was it “right” for the experimentation to take place, because without it he would not be getting the treatment that was keeping him alive? He wondered further where the line is drawn. If a gorilla can be taught to communicate with humans, it shows that the gorilla is intelligent. Dogs are not as intelligent as gorillas, but they do form bonds. How far down the intelligence chain do you go before an animal is dumb enough to perform experiments on? When is it dumb enough to eat?

I don’t know about “regular eating”, but in Cuba when a dolphin is caught it is butchered and eaten. Shrimp trawlers routinely catch one or two per day, and since they’re not part of the shrimp catch the fishermen are allowed to take them home. They sell some, they eat some.

I think the western reluctance to eat dolphins has a lot to do with the dolphin worship culture of the last couple of decades. Shows like Flipper, and myths about the levels of dolphin intelligence have surely fueled that. In Cuba, and maybe other caribbean islands too, dolphins are just another kind of “fish”. And a not so friendly one either. A story I remember was that dolphins are in the water one should get out because the dolphin, called toninas probably an indian derived name, would do their best to drown you if they could get you away from the shore.

Pigs are thought to be quite intelligent, possibly comparable to dogs. Can’t find a cite offhand that’s not a pitch for vegetarianism, though.

Religion is usually a function of morals.

The problem with dolphin meat is that it can have very high levels of mercury and dioxin. Dophin is sometimes sold in Japan as whale meat and testing of it has found that it has unhealthy levels of mercury.

A solid argument can be made that pigs are much more intelligent than are cats and at least as intelligent as are dogs. Likewise, horses are monumentally stupid, at least as stupid as a cow. My wife was a groom for over a decade. The stupidity of horses is legendary among those who actually have to deal with them all day long.

CookingWithGas & Dogface: This is true. But people have been eating pigs for a lot longer than they’ve been considering the relative intelligence of animals. Besides: Deadpiggies are yummy. :slight_smile:

[sub]Note to self: Get down to the Cuban restaurant and get some roast deadpig this weekend.[/sub]

Just for clarification, we’re talking about Dolphin (mammals) in this thread, not the regularly-eaten Dolphin (fish). In some areas of the English-speaking world, the word “dolphin” first brings to mind the “fish”.

I think humans would eat ANYTHING if it tastes good, regardless of the food’s intelligence level. If I ever teach a tuna to jump through a hoop, I don’t think it will change the world’s eating habits.

AFAIK dolphin eating was still practiced in parts of China untill recently.

I’m not sure how relevant this is, but Jews aren’t supposed to eat dolphin. “And of whatever lives in the water, you may eat whatever has fins and scales, but you may not eat whatever does not have fins and scales”. A dolphin lives in the water, but it doesn’t have scales, so it’s not Kosher.

At least, as I understand it. IANA;j

Derleth

Yes I know that’s why I stated :

I take it you are offended by my statement, am I correct?

dogface

Inferring that cats are less intelligent then dogs, which although you got it backwards, I care not to argue this point, just to refer you to Cecil’s take on the issue (which is nutral):
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_005.html

As for the OP, I still don’t consider eating dolphin to be a immoral act, really a amoral one (neither moral or immoral).
Please take my dolphin eating poll:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=175938

It’s not the dolphin meat per say, it’s bio-concentration through the food chain. Predator species like marlin and kingfish are also liekly to have high concentrations of pollutants too.

Never the less, I don’t have a problem with eating dolphin. I just have a problem with people start fishing random species without regard for the sustainability of stocks. Case in point, North Sea Cod.

[Cartman] Intelligent and friendly on rye bread with some mayonaise![/Cartman]

I don’t know if it’s necessarily the intelligence of the animal which makes us reluctant to eat it, but how close the animal is to us. We don’t like to eat animals which are widely considered “pets,” such as dogs, cats, horses, etc. Heck, I doubt if most people would eat goldfish, other than college students responding to a dare.

Animals to which we assign “personality” are difficult to consume. When I was a child, I had a pet chicken, and was horrified when my parents wanted to eat him. I couldn’t even consider such a thing, though we ate other chickens from our coop. People avoid naming animals which they are raising for food, and try not to have any affection for them.

Now be fair, the stupidity of computer users is legendary among those who actually have to deal with them all day long.

Assuming dolphin is fairly close to whale, this has some basic information on Beluga whales. It’s worth pointing out that there are dozens of species of dolphin, and there’s probably some variance. Tuna’s pretty good stuff, nutritionally. It would be tough to beat.

There is a dolphin fish which people can eat. I’ve had it before-it’s really good.

kanicbird, I’m not offended, I just noticed an incorrect assumption.