Celebrate National Dolphin Day The Dodo Way

We can't quite figure out who chose today as National Dolphin Day -- it's being used by veterinary and zoo associations, anti-captivity activists and SeaWorld -- so we're going to set our own agenda here and celebrate dolphins in explicit Dodo fashion: Honoring their intelligence, dazzling at their movement, and plotting a better future for them.

To that latter point, we hear from "Flipper" trainer-turned-national treasure and animal activist Ric O'Barry, who has led the charge against the annual dolphin hunts in Japan, who has an important piece about how a "Boycott Japan" movement is misguided. "A better strategy," he writes, "would be to isolate the few people who are guilty of killing the dolphins from the rest of the Japanese population who are totally unaware of the problem." Another important tactic to stop the dolphin hunts has been to pressure airlines to ban the transport of dolphins that have been caught in the wild. It's a brilliant gambit -- dolphin hunts are now primarily used for capturing cetaceans for zoos and aquariums around the world -- and it's spearheaded by WDC (Whales And Dolphin Conservation). That group's program director, Courtney Vail, explains how it's become a success, and why they're heavily campaigning against their own white whale: Air China. And the ultimate protection for dolphins? The nascent "personhood" movement, which would protect them in ways pretty familiar to all of us.

In the meantime, Melissa Cronin explains all the ways you can get involved to stop Japan's continuing dolphin hunts right here.

And you can catch up on our reports since our January launch of all the expansive new research into dolphin cognitive and social abilities, from a possible first-time translation of their whistles (did a dolphin really say "seaweed'?), to an indication that a dolphin tries to communicate with an unborn child during its final trimester. Are they communicating with each other, or is a reassuring lullaby? We'll likely know soon enough, considering the pace with which the research on the subject is excelling. We already know they're capable of great intelligence and empathy (heartbreakingly so).

Be sure to check out all the videos-to-celebr-509763911.html">mesmerizing videos we have uptoday, too, of their incredible skills. There are no videos of aquatic parks with hoop-jumping dolphins, no vacationers taking Instagram videos while swimming with a bottlenose. We want to celebrate dolphins where they belong: In the wild. And hope you will, too.

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