Dolphins Bring Gifts to Humans After Missing Them During the Early Pandemic

One of the hardest parts of the early pandemic was the lockdowns and not being able to see loved ones for months on end. However, it turns out it wasn't only humans who longed for the day we'd be able to hang out together once again. For years, a pod of dolphins in Queensland, Australia, had grown accustomed to the attention and treats they got from the patrons of the Barnacles Cafe & Dolphin Feeding. When things suddenly shut down in the spring of 2020, the animals started wondering where all their fans had gone. Hoping to encourage their human friends to visit them again, the dolphins began showing up at the café with gifts like coral, wood, sea shells, and even a starfish.

“The pod has been bringing us regular gifts, showing us how much they’re missing the public interaction and attention,” wrote the Barnacles Cafe team in a Facebook post, in which they also shared the array of gifts they had gotten from the sea creatures. Most presents seem to come from a then-29-year-old alpha male dolphin called Mystique. Australian outlet ABC reports that, while the dolphin had previously shown up with tokens of appreciation to the feeders and visitors, this behavior increased during the pandemic.

“One male dolphin brings in objects on his rostrum, or beak, and then he carefully presents them to us,” volunteer Lyn McPherson said in an interview. “What we have to do is give him a fish in return. We haven't trained him, but he has trained us to do this.” The cafe workers say that the dolphin brought up to 21 items at a time, lining them up in hopes to get a fish in return. “If he drops [a gift] too far out, or we say ‘come on, that's not good enough', then he gets underneath it and brings it to us.”

As restrictions eased over the summer, visitors were once again welcome to get up close with the dolphin pod. Nevertheless, not only did they keep on showing up with presents that marveled visitors, like a sea sponge and a rock that weighed almost eight pounds—the pod also grew with the birth of new calfs. The videos show the little dolphins swimming to the shore with their moms, so only time will tell if they are into gift-giving as well.

A pod of dolphins in Australia had grown accustomed to the attention and treats they got from the patrons of the Barnacles Cafe & Dolphin Feeding. When things suddenly shut down due to the pandemic in 2020, the animals began to show up with gifts.

Even after restrictions were lifted, the alpha male dolphin kept up with the gift-giving. He even showed up with a starfish!

Barnacles Cafe & Dolphin Feeding: Website | Facebook
h/t: [Reddit]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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