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Dolphin Moko Going Bad – Again?

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.

moko rocks dolphin circle shirtBut, 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.

6 thoughts on “Dolphin Moko Going Bad – Again?”

  1. Liz Sandeman says:

    Couldn’t agree more with the Moko comments – its facilties like Sea World etc that are mis educating the public about dolphins, making them think that they are cuddly, friendly animals when in fact some are not. Dolphins like Moko and hundreds similar worldwide may be sociable but they are still wild, boisterous and powerful animals, therefore if people wish to get in the water with them, they have to take their chance. It’s time that we humans stop putting the blame on these animals by saying they are bad and dangerous. Has anyone seen a tourist getting out of a jeep on a safari trip to play with a lion after all. Dolphins are simply no different.

  2. Tamahome Jenkins says:

    I completely agree. It baffles me that people go into a wild animal’s natural habitat, and then complains when said animal behaves *naturally*.

  3. HareTrinity says:

    Much as dolphins are crazed cannibalistic rapists (this is true, they’ve been known to try sexually assaulting human swimmers too) I wouldn’t say these comments over-humanise him.

    Sheep can tell the difference between happy and sad people, and prefer happy.

    Possibly dolphins don’t recognise human faces, but if sheep can then I imagine dolphins (a more intelligent and also social mammal) can. If this dolphin was deliberately making people unhappy, that’s not good.

    But maybe he was just experimenting, or his friends told him not to over-dolphin humans.

    Or maybe he’s after chicks, they dig bad boys.

  4. Dave Head says:

    I agree. I have swum with Moko for the last 2 years and in winter he really gets very boisterous. It’s what I have come to expect. But he does respond to signals to ‘settle’ down. Calling him bad is stupid. Why he came and why he does not leave when other dolphins visit from time to time we will never know. What I do know is is loves having fun -especially with children who I have never seen him get boisterous with -mind you most visit him in summer. But even 2 weeks ago he was playing tug of war with seaweed with 2 young children in the shallows.
    I often wonder about all the expert advice we get about him -it took them two years to admit he was not female.

  5. Dave Head says:

    I would love to send you some photos of Moko and I playing Green man. You can email me at

  6. Anonymous says:

    where is moko the dolphin

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