When people learn that I’m a marine biologist, they often assume I got into this career because I want to be a dolphin trainer. The general public seems to believe that marine mammals are cute and cuddly and innocent, but sharks are cruel and evil and bad. In reality, nature is an amoral place- our morality is, by necessity, anthropocentric and doesn’t really relate to the wild behavior of animals. If this wasn’t the case, though, here are ten reasons why marine mammals aren’t as cute and cuddly and innocent as people sometimes think they are.
1) Female dolphins who have recently given birth are not interested in mating, since they are spending their time and energy taking care of their new baby. Male dolphins know this…and have been known to kill baby dolphins so that the mother is more interested in mating with them.Baby dolphins, I’ll admit, can be cute. Killing a baby dolphin so that you can sleep with the grieving mom is not cute.
2) Dolphins torture and kill baby sharks. While dolphins attacking and sometimes killing adult sharks to protect their babies is understandable, isn’t torturing and killing small animals a sign that you may become a sociopath? At the very least, torturing and killing small animals is not cute.
3) Like sharks, dolphins are efficient and brutal predators. I’ve never understood why people think that sharks are vicious but dolphins are cute when both have similar diets. Dolphins are, if anything, more clever in how they kill their prey. Being better at killing certainly does not make something cute.
4) A beach in Florida was recently shut down because of a mile-long stretch of it was covered by an unknown and disgusting smelling substance. After some research, the substance was determined to be manatee poop. While you and I can speculate if this was intentional economic terrorism all day, logic tells us that something can not simultaneously be disgusting and cute.
6) Several of the most common marine mammal diseases are sexually transmitted. Come on now, dolphins. Lots of small children idolize you. You aren’t being very good role models. Wait until you’re married. STD’s are very, very not cute.
7) Orca whales can kill great white sharks, the stereotypical vicious predator. Again, being better at killing than something infamous for being vicious does not make you cute.
8 ) The very existence of Wet Goddess makes dolphins less cute. Just as I can never think of apple pie the same way after watching “American Pie”, I can’t think of dolphins the same way after reading some of what the author wrote. Is that the dolphin’s fault? No, but I don’t care- read some of that book and you will never think of dolphins as cute and innocent again.
9) There is something called a “dolphin assisted birth“, which is like a water birth…except there are dolphins nearby. While this is again not really the dolphin’s fault, inspiring hippies to do crazy things does not a cute animal make.
10) Whale Whores. Very not cute.
Again, the very concept of “morality” and “right and wrong” doesn’t apply to the behavior of wild animals. Wild animals just do what they do to survive. However, marine mammals are clearly not as cute and cuddly and innocent as some people believe.