Dolphins who frequent Australia’s Tin Can Bay, a popular tourist spot, have started bringing “gifts” onshore, apparently missing the visitors who would normally be lined up to lavish them with attention and feed them before the coronavirus pandemic.
The pod of humpback dolphins has brought fragments of coral, barnacle-covered bottles and sponges as gifts to Barnacles Cafe & Dolphin Feeding in recent weeks, a volunteer told Australia’s 7News.
“Nothing surprises me with dolphins and their behavior anymore,” Barry McGovern, a dolphin expert and PhD student at University of Queensland, told the outlet. “They do everything — they use tools, they have culture, they have something similar to names in signature whistles.”
“They often play with bits of weed and coral and all sorts of things and just leave it on their rostrum,” McGovern said. “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.”
“In all likelihood, they probably don’t miss humans per se,” the scientist added. “They probably miss a free meal and the routine.”
The café’s Facebook page took a far less skeptical view of the activity, writing: “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.”