Australian dolphins are missing human visitors so much that they’re leaving 'gifts' on the shore in case we come back

Sanjana Varghese
Friday 22 May 2020 09:00
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(Getty)

Some animals seem to be handling isolation better than others.

In some museums and zoos around the world, penguins and other animals are able to roam freely as there are no human visitors.

On the other end of the spectrum, the rare garden eels in an aquarium in China attracted a lot of attention after their keepers asked people to FaceTime them so they wouldn’t forget what humans looked like.

It looks like another group of animals may be missing humans too, as Australia’s 7News reported earlier this week that a group of dolphins have bought sea detritus to shore in the last couple of weeks.

A group of dolphins is called a pod, and this pod seems to be looking for the human interactions which have disappeared as a result of lockdown.

The dolphins are often found around Australia’s Tin Can Bay, which is a popular spot with tourists. The Bay is in Queensland, and a cafe in the area – Barnacles Cafe and Dolphin Feeding – posted photos of the items that dolphins have been bringing to them.

The cafe is also a nature centre, where people can come and interact with the dolphins in the mornings, but were operating with reduced capacity during the pandemic.

The pod has been bringing pieces of coral, as well as sea sponges and barnacle covered bottles to the cafe in recent weeks, and deposited them on the shore. The cafe has since opened up and is asking that people come and visit the dolphins again.

An expert in dolphin behaviour, Barry McGovern, also suggested that the real reasons why dolphins are bringing gifts to shore may be less about missing human interaction and more about missing the free food and attention.

“Nothing surprises me with dolphins and their behaviour anymore,” McGovern told 7News.

“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.”

He also suggested that the dolphins may be behaving like this out of boredom, a feeling that potentially every animal species could understand.

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