The Gift of Giving

Mon, 12 Dec 2016

By Tangalooma Island Resort

The Gift of Giving - Dolphin Gifting

With the Christmas spirit in full effect, we thought it best we share a rather peculiar story on the gift of giving. This time, involving our favourite dolphin visitors!

Enter 'Dolphin Gifting', a rare and unique phenomenon that has been observed at Tangalooma Island Resort on numerous occasions throughout the history of the nightly feeding programme.

On numerous occasions, wild dolphins that visit the shores of Tangalooma each evening have been witnessed giving gifts to humans! Yes, you definitely read that right...

The Tangalooma Dolphin Care Team have received over twenty gifts from our dolphin friends since the Dolphin Feeding Programme began at Tangalooma back in 1992. Some of these previous ocean gift commodities have varied from squid, to eels, octopus and a range of other common and rare fin fish.

dolphins that visit the shores of Tangalooma each evening have been witnessed giving gifts

The motivation behind this incredibly generous act of gift giving has been hard to determine, with many leading researchers often proclaiming that this form of food sharing can often be motivated by an urge to play or an increasing desire to reciprocate the food sharing behaviour with staff and guests of the feeding programme.

Eco Ranger Corey Mansillas, a regular to Tangalooma's nightly dolphin feed said that it's often hard to determine exactly why our wild dolphins bring us gifts every now and then.

“Most of our team think it's just their way of saying thanks! Thanks for the fishy treats and thanks for the great bond we share with each other."

I don’t think anyone watching that night could quite believe what they saw!

The last dolphin gifting event occurred in August this year, when crowd favourite Tinkerbell began speeding around the dolphin feeding area chasing a long and thin ocean creature, before pushing a huge moray eel up onto the shores toward our Dolphin Care Team.

"I remember one of our team members pointing out at Tinkerbell while we were setting up for the nightly feed, noticing that she was creating quite a stir in the water. The next thing I knew, Tink had pushed a huge moray eel up onto the shoreline for all of our staff and guests to see!  I don’t think anyone watching that night could quite believe what they saw!"

Eco Ranger Corey said, "While we all know that it's not exactly the type of gift that us humans appreciate quite as much as our dolphins, we all appreciate the thought just as much!”

So while it's unlikely that these ocean items will appear under your Christmas tree this year, we know one thing for a fact. Wild Bottlenose Dolphins are amongst some of the worlds most intelligent creatures, and the fact that they remind us about what Christmas is all about re-confirms this to us every year!

The Dolphin Feeding Programme at Tangalooma Island Resort runs nightly, 365 days of the year.

For more information on how you can experience this on a day cruise package, click here.

For more information on Dolphin Gifting, check out research paper “Gift Giving” by Wild Bottle nosed Dolphins (Tursiops sp.) to Humans at a Wild Dolphin Provisioning Program, Tangalooma, Australia. By University of Queensland researchers Bonnie Holmes and David Neil.

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Tangalooma Island Resort

Take the world's 3rd largest sand island…add a splash of sunshine, balmy sea breezes, a dash of discovery and a handful of adventure, and you've got Tangalooma Island Resort. An island oasis, just a 75 minute cruise from Brisbane.

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