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Dolphins Caught Stealing: See the Adorable Video That’s Mesmerizing Scientists!



Quick Smiles:

  • Dolphins caught on camera stealing bait from crab traps in Australia
  • Footage captured by the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, Western Australia
  • Crabber Russell Dawson adapts his bait strategy to outsmart the clever dolphins

In a fascinating world-first, a dolphin was caught on film swiping bait from a crab trap off the coast of Australia. The sneaky behavior was recorded by a camera mounted on the trap by the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, Western Australia. The footage shows the dolphins using their eyes, bodies, teeth, and beak (known as a rostrum) to skillfully snatch the bait from the crabbers’ pots.

Dolphin Discovery Centre volunteer and filmmaker Axel Grossman was surprised by the footage, stating, “We knew something was happening, but we had no clue that the dolphins were acting to such an extent, through so much effort, learning and physical and mental problem-solving [to steal the food].”

According to a local crabber with 40 years of experience in the Bunbury area, this phenomenon isn’t new but has become more frequent in the last 20 years. Russell Dawson said, “If you see some dolphins around, you can guarantee you’re going to get your crab nets raided.”

To outsmart the clever dolphins, Dawson has started replacing the fishy bait with a locked box filled with bait and secured with narrow steel cables. Small holes in the box allow crabs to detect and grab a pinch of the bait inside, while the larger rostrums of the dolphins cannot access it.

Experts at the Dolphin Discovery Centre are excited to investigate this unique human-dolphin interaction. As intelligent animals capable of rapidly adapting to changes in their environment, observing more interactions like this with human-made elements can help researchers better understand how to structure marine activity to accommodate and protect these amazing creatures. So, go ahead and share the story of these clever underwater thieves with your friends!