Tinkerbell's Gift

Wed, 02 Sep 2020

By Tangalooma Island Resort

Tinkerbell recently surprised guests & the dolphin care team with a gift

The highlight of any stay at Tangalooma has to be the nightly wild dolphin feed. As the sun starts to set, the playful dolphins swim into the shadows, hunting for fish and chasing each other under the jetty, showing off for all the excited guests who await their arrival. So imagine everyone’s excitement when just recently, one of the dolphins gave chase to a large eel before catching it right in front of their eyes!

Tinkerbell was swimming beneath the jetty in the lead up to the dolphin feed when she spotted a large eel about 1.3m in length in the jetty area. Her instinct kicked in and guests watched with wonder as Tinkerbell chased and effortlessly caught the eel. With the catch in her mouth, Tinkerbell swam around the jetty, showing off her catch to all the excited onlookers. When the Dolphin Care team entered the water to start the nightly wild dolphin feed, Tinkerbell swam into the shallow waters and dropped the eel in front of Michael, one of the Dolphin Care team members. Michael proceeded to pick up the eel and tried, three times, to give it back to Tinkerbell but each time she would grab it and once again drop it at Michael’s feet. It was as if Tinkerbell wanted to give the eel to Michael as a gift.

Tangalooma is one of the few places in the world where this unique ‘gift giving’ behaviour from dolphins has been recorded and researched

This behaviour is not uncommon for the dolphins, especially for Tinkerbell who has brought several gifts to the Dolphin Care team over the years – you can see these gifts  on display in the Eco Centre. Watching Tinkerbell conduct a hunt in her natural habitat is an amazing sight for both Tangalooma guests and the Dolphin Care team and demonstrates Tinkerbell’s undeniable wild instincts as the matriarch of the dolphin family.

Tangalooma is one of the few places in the world where this unique ‘gift giving’ behaviour from dolphins has been recorded and researched. The research helps us understand the dolphins’ motives behind gift giving, which are said to include food sharing and play behaviour.

Whether Tangalooma’s wild dolphins give away their catch to share or to play, one thing is for sure, these creatures are simply incredible and Tangalooma guests are so fortunate to see them each evening at the Resort.

Tinkerbell is one of the Resort’s most popular dolphins and the matriarch of the group. At the age of 30, Tinkerbell has been visiting Tangalooma since 1992 with her mother Beauty and is a proud mother herself to six calves, including the youngest calf Scout, born in 2019. Beauty was the first dolphin to visit Tangalooma and her nightly visits started the wild dolphin feeding program at the Resort.

For more information about the wild dolphins that visit Tangalooma and the wild dolphin feeding program, click here. To book your unforgettable wild dolphin feeding experience at Tangalooma, click here.

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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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