The fact that dolphins are one of the smartest living creatures on earth has been known for many years. Now it turns out that these magnificent animals are quite generous too! At least the ones that live in the waters around Australia's popular Tangalooma Island Resort who apparently love to swim to shore bearing gifts for the staff that have been feeding them daily, since 1992.
The astonishing generosity was first observed in 1998, when Fred an adult male dolphin who frequents the area, swam into the bay and presented his 'gift' of a dead moray eel to one of the resort workers. Since then, 22 more gift-giving instances have been observed according to a research report published on December 4th, by Bonnie Holmes and David Neil, both scientists with the University of Queensland in Brisbane. The sporadic gifts include squids, finfish and even, an occasional octopus.
While food exchanges in animals of the same species are quite common they are unheard of between members of different ones. The only animals that have been known to do it on are regular basis are domesticated cats who often present their owners with 'gifts' of dead prey.
Scientists are not sure why reasons the dolphins are doing this. In the animal world it is usually spurred by one of three things - the desire to play, exchange food morsels or the notion that the recipient of the food gift is not a very efficient hunter. In this case scientists speculate it may be to do with the first of the three - A desire to frolic with the humans that feed them every day.
Though we may never ever be able to determine the exact reason, one thing is for sure - Gift giving at the Tangalooma Island Resort is an established tradition - One that is here to stay, for many years to come.