Dolphins near Tangalooma, a resort located on Moreton Island, are gift givers of the best kind — they bring food to humans. Researchers observing the dolphin population saw 23 occurrences of this gift-giving, in which the dolphins approached humans bearing an octopus or fish they’d caught.
The study was published in the December 2012 issue of the journal Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals. The dolphin population consists of 12 bottlenose dolphins, which get fed fish by humans nightly.
The gift-giving could be a reciprocation of this feeding, the dolphins trying to share their food right back, EarthSky suggests, a pretty rare occurrence:
Food sharing is a fairly common behaviour among animals of the same species, but it is a much rarer phenomenon between animals that are from different species. Perhaps one of the best known examples of inter-species food sharing occurs in domesticated cats that have a tendency to drop prey items at their owner’s feet. Inter-species food sharing in wild animal populations has not been widely documented in the scientific literature.
They could have just wanted to play, though.