Aww!
Sweet dolphin loves bringing people gifts from the bottom of the ocean
Mystique, a 29-year-old humpback dolphin, has become a bit of a local celebrity for his adorable, gift-giving ways.
Elijah Chan
09.12.22

How smart are dolphins for real?

As humans, we often boast our skills in training other animals whether it be our dogs or cats. But what if your animal companion is the one training you?

Just think about it. You respond when they put their paw on your hand, or if they do smart things for a handful of treats.

A dolphin from a feeding center displayed this kind of intelligence.

Mystique, a 29-year-old humpback dolphin from Tin Can Bay on Queensland’s coasts became some sort of a local celebrity for his recent activities.

While we see dolphins jumping through hoops or swimming upright and backward, Mystique has a different set of skills.

The volunteers at the Barnacles Café and Dolphin Feeding center feel like the dolphin has trained them.

Mystique developed a way of giving “gifts” to volunteers and other people who visit his side of the water. Staff members and different people who interacted with the dolphin said they received an array of offerings – antique bottles, shells, and other trinkets from under the sea.

If you asked them where they got it, they’d most likely point you to the culprit. Mystique, apparently, was diving underwater to get gifts.

In turn, the staff gives Mystique some fishy treats to the point that they were questioning if the dolphin trained them to do so.

The volunteers said that Mystique taught himself this trick.

They said that he would take the things by his rostrum, or snout, then carefully swims to the surface to present his offering.

They also said that this behavior increased during the pandemic when there were fewer visitors around. The volunteers also said that they’ve never trained Mystique to do these salvaging and retrieval operations.

The staff thought he had a stash hidden underwater.

“Since we’ve been closed to the public he has been doing it more and more. Sometimes he will bring 10, one at a time, and he will line them up as he has to get fish.” A volunteer feeder was quoted by ABC.

They also shared that in a pod made up of seven dolphins, it was only Mystique who showed this kind of habit and behavior.

That doesn’t mean the trick stops with him, though. They also observed another dolphin who accompanies Mystique. He also gets a fish when Mystique surfaces with something.

The dolphins come to the bay to interact with humans.

At least that’s what the staff at the café says. The seaside establishment is a hit for kids as they are given the opportunity to get up close with dolphins.

The center was established in the 1950s when an injured dolphin was beached on the shore. The locals fed and nursed the dolphin back to help.

When they thought that it would be the last time they’d ever see the dolphin, it came back around 1991 with a pod of other dolphins. That group of pilgrims included Mystique and his mother. They’ve always visited the bay since then.

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By Elijah Chan
hi@sbly.com
Elijah Chan is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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