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I hate these news stories, but not for the reasons you might think.
These stories represent a kind of technological puritanism in ocean outreach, where we draw weirdly unfounded conclusions about the way humans relate to their tools to somehow absolve us of social responsibility. It’s not people mistreating a dolphin, it’s a selfie-crazed mob. We chuckle and move on, because we don’t take aggressive selfies. We’re better than that.
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.