Pod Of Dolphins Bringing Ashore ‘Gifts’ From Sea Are Probably Just Hungry, Expert Says
A pod of dolphins in Australia have been bringing little ‘gifts’ ashore for onlookers. It may be cute, but the likelihood is that they’re just hungry.
Visitors to the Barnacles Cafe & Dolphin Feeding at Tin Can Bay in Queensland are usually lined up ready to give the local humpback dolphins some food and interaction. However, due to the current pandemic, it’s been particularly quiet recently.
However, the café’s staff have noticed that the creatures still swim around the same area, bringing pieces of coral, sea sponges and other items from the sea in lieu of regular play with humans.
Apparently, the dolphins have been known for this behaviour before, but it’s increased since lockdown measures began. On its Facebook page, the café wrote: ‘The pod has been bringing us regular gifts, showing us how much they’re missing the public interaction and attention… they are definitely missing you all.’
While it’s possible the mammals miss our lovely faces, it’s far more likely they’re simply used to the routine and after some grub when they rock up with a gift.
Barry McGovern, an expert in dolphin behaviour, explained to 7News:
Nothing surprises me with dolphins and their behaviour anymore. They do everything – they use tools, they have culture, they have something similar to names in signature whistles. In all likelihood, they probably don’t miss humans per se. They probably miss a free meal and the routine.
They’re used to getting fed now, so they’re used to humans coming in. When it’s not happening, maybe it’s just out of boredom.
McGovern also acknowledged the possibility that it’s ‘play-like behaviour’. ‘They often play with bits of weed and coral and all sorts of things and just leave it on their rostrum,’ he added.
Elsewhere in the world, zookeepers say animals are feeling lonely without the swathes of people around them every day. Leo Oosterweghel, director of Dublin Zoo, said the residents ‘come up and have a good look because they’re wondering what’s happened to everyone else. They are used to visitors.’
Paul Rose, a lecturer in animal behaviour at the University of Exeter, explained that animals, like primates and parrots, rely on our visits and engagement for ‘enrichment’. ‘It is beneficial to the animal’s well-being and quality of life. If this stimulation is not there, then the animals are lacking the enrichment,’ he told BBC News.
Hopefully the local residents and dolphins can get back into a normal routine soon.
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CreditsBarnacles Cafe & Dolphin Feeding/Facebook and 2 others
Barnacles Cafe & Dolphin Feeding/Facebook