The Ecological Citizen

A free-to-access publication confronting human supremacy in defence of the Earth


Long article

The silence of the humpback whale

Kathleen Dean Moore

The Ecological Citizen Vol 3 Suppl A 2019: 7–11

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First published: 12 November 2019  |  Permanent URL  |  Download citation in RIS format


Humpback whale populations are declining in many parts of the world, entailing the loss of both their ecological functions and their magnificent music. This is not just an environmental crisis, but a moral catastrophe. The fate of the whales is a tragic loss for humans, who take pleasure in seeing them and hearing their songs. Far more significant on a moral scale, the whales' fate is unjust, a violation of our duty to protect innocent beings from undeserved suffering, in violation of their rights. It is profane, a violation of our duty of reverence. And it is cruel, a violation of our duty of compassion. How much of Earth's legacy of beautiful lives are we are willing to trade away, in order to maintain an unmerited and unsustainable way of life?



Animal ethics, Ecological ethics, Intrinsic value, Rights of nature, Water