I was a bit amused to find the news this morning that Moko, the New Zealand bottlenose dolphin that gained fame by playing with people and rescuing whales from stranding, is going bad. It seems that Moko played with a human swimmer by not letting the swimmer go back to shore. This wasn’t a case of a dolphin rescuing a human. It was a case in which a human needed to be rescued from a dolphin.
But, has Moko gone bad? One way to think about it is that Moko really went bad a while ago. I wrote a year ago about how people had observed Moko engaging in some “aggressive” behaviors, such as pushing a kayak out to sea.
Another way to think about this behavior is to note that Moko isn’t a human being, and isn’t a member of our species’ society in any way. Moko can’t, therefore, be good or bad. He doesn’t play by our rules.
We might as well ask whether we humans are breaking the rules of dolphin society as consider whether Moko is going bad.