In 1986, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home proved that humanity needs to get serious about saving the whales. Otherwise, one day in the distant future, a huge probe will appear in Earth’s orbit and threaten to disrupt our way of life forever. Unless they can talk to the humpback whales, who may or may not have been their interstellar pen pals. Should the mysterious aliens discover they were not actually ghosted by an entire species, they will return from whence they came.
But what about the dolphins? Another science fiction classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, claims dolphins are the second-most intelligent lifeforms on Earth (just behind mice). That has turned out to be pretty accurate (though humans still think we’re #1). Dolphins name themselves and respond, are extremely helpful to other species, and can even follow instructions to create a meal. So, in a way, it makes sense that William Shatner would take up their cause. It’s a nice dovetail to Captain Kirk’s mission to save the whales.
To that end, Shatner has partnered with PETA to bring an end to the “Dolphin Swim” excursion on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s themed Star Trek: The Cruise. The letter in its entirety to Norwegian Cruise Lines CEO, Frank J. Del Rio:
Dear Mr. Del Rio,
I’m so happy that Star Trek fans have the opportunity to climb aboard Norwegian Jade’s Star Trek: The Cruise and experience their own interstellar voyage of sorts. However, so long as your company offers “swim with dolphins” experiences, what should be a futuristic voyage will be set back light years.
Never before has public opinion leaned so strongly against marine mammal captivity, presumably across all galaxies. Dolphins are highly intelligent, socially complex animals who travel great distances in the wild, often in large family pods. In captivity, they’re confined to pitiful, barren makeshift lagoons, often after being captured from the wild and torn away from their families in violent ways or after being bred into captivity for profit. There’s no justification for condemning animals to a lifetime of suffering in the name of entertainment.
Aboard the USS Enterprise, it was Captain Kirk’s duty “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations” in order to advance and diversify our own. The exploitation of any species for profit and entertainment would have violated the Prime Directive. I’m urging you to go where compassionate companies—such as TripAdvisor, MasterCard, and more—have gone before by removing “swim with dolphins” encounters from the Star Trek: The Cruise voyage, as well as from all other cruises offered through Norwegian Jade. Surely, Star Trek fans would appreciate the decision to allow dolphins to remain in the wild—and prosper.
Ironically, by pleading the case for dolphins to be released from captivity, William Shatner has just established himself as a warrior of social justice. A thing he’s spent the better part of the last week railing against on social media. Captains in glass starships shouldn’t throw space stones, I guess. But even if Shatner thinks human women should shut up and be grateful, at least he cares about the lady (and dude) dolphins.