Mystique the humpback dolphin keeps coming back with gifts from the ocean to swap with food. Researchers are still stumped as to why so many dolphins some bearing these presents from their home water.
The recent spate of gift-giving could also be a new take on an old behavior. Dolphins are known for being playful, and may just be riding new ways to spend their time. In their absence, the dolphins have returned with items like sea sponges, barnacle-encrusted bottles and pieces of coral.
They often play with bits of weed and coral and all sorts of things and just leave it on their rostrum (nose),” McGovern said. “They’re used to getting fed now, so they’re used to humans coming in. When it’s not happening, maybe it’s just out of boredom.”
Not only is the dolphin smart enough to come up with bribing techniques, he also knows “when he brings something in that he will get lots of praise and attention, then a fish to say thank you.” He has a “very intelligent and gentle soul, but is also slightly mischievous,” the volunteers told us.