“Gift Giving” by Wild Bottle nose Dolphins (Tursiops sp.) to Humans at a Wild Dolphin Provisioning Program, Tangalooma, Australia
Authors: Holmes, Bonnie J.; Neil, David T.
Source: Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1 December 2012, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 397-413(17)
Abstract:Since 1992, wild dolphin provisioning has occurred on a nightly basis at Tangalooma, a resort located on Moreton Island, Australia. Each evening at dusk up to 12 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) are provided with fish in a regulated provisioning program. Since July 1998, biologists managing the program have documented 23 occurrences of “gift giving,” when several of the provisioned dolphins have offered wild-caught cephalopod or fin fish species to staff members. The characteristics of each of these events are presented, and we explore the relationships between these events and their temporal patterns, and the age and sex of the dolphins involved. We also consider the behavioral explanations for the “gift giving,” including prey sharing, play, and teaching behaviors, which have previously been described for cetaceans and other higher mammals. Gift giving may occur either as a discreet behavior (that may be a sequel to one or more other behaviors such as play or food preparation), or as a part of other behaviors, such as play and/or food sharing. It is most likely a manifestation of the particular relationship between the provisioned dolphins and the human participants in the provisioning. Gift giving has become an established but infrequent part of the culture of the provisioned dolphins at Tangalooma.
Document Type: Research Article