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What Do Dolphins Eat

What Do Dolphins Eat?

Common bottlenose dolphins or also known as Tursiops truncatus are the charmer of the open sea.

Known for their intelligence and unbeatable charisma, common bottlenose dolphins can charm their way under the sea. Without these lovable sea creatures, life under the sea would not be able to maintain its equilibrium. This is because dolphins help keep the food chain up and running underwater. Discover the answer to the question “What do dolphins eat?” including how they drink and what types of sea animals they feast on.

What Are Common Bottlenose Dolphins?

Common bottlenose dolphins are one of the stars of the open sea. The curvature of their mouths makes it seem like they’re smiling. Their intelligence is impressive because they can learn and perform different tricks. Bottlenose dolphins are scattered across the world — from estuaries to tropical waters, bays, harbors, and gulfs.

Common bottlenose dolphins are easily spotted along the shores. Because they’re mammals, bottlenose dolphins come to the water’s surface to breathe. Behind their adorable facade, they’re top ocean predators. However, they also fall prey to other marine animals. Let’s find out what eats dolphins.

Dolphins often fall victim to orcas and sharks. Being on top of the food chain, dolphins usually get away from their predators. Sharks and orcas will have to be fast, big, and sneaky to catch dolphins. Other than that, they have only a few natural enemies.

Dolphin Diet: What Are Their Food Preferences and Resources?

Are dolphins carnivores? They are indeed.

So what do dolphins eat? The food preferences and resources of common bottlenose dolphins vary depending on their geographical location. Their palate is usually drawn to fish, shrimp, and squid. Common bottlenose dolphins also develop an acquired taste for certain sea animals.

In case you’re wondering what fish do dolphins eat, the answer is: it depends. Offshore dolphins love to munch on squids and fish. Dolphins along the coastal waters chomp on small fish and bottom-dwelling aquatic creatures.

What do dolphins eat? Most dolphins prey on the following marine animals:

  • Shrimp
  • Squid
  • Octopus
  • Mackerel
  • Herring

How do dolphins eat? Dolphins don’t chew. They often swallow their food whole — head first to keep the spines from getting caught in their throats. For large fish, dolphins either shake or rub them onto the sand until a chewable size breaks off.

How Much Is Their Food Intake?

Now that you know the common dolphin food, let’s dive right into how much they eat.

In January 2018, BBC News reported that according to a dolphin study published in the Royal Society Open Science, wild dolphins require a whopping 33,000 calories per day. This is equivalent to 60 portions of salmon. The research also notes that common bottlenose dolphins require 10 to 25 kilograms of fish every day to survive.

What do dolphins drink? The way they hydrate themselves is different. Common bottlenose dolphins don’t drink saltwater. They hydrate through the food they eat instead. Another interesting fact about dolphins is that they have three stomachs.
Common bottlenose dolphins’ stomachs are compartmentalized to support rapid digestion. The first chamber of their stomach receives all the food they consume. This serves as a storage unit until their two stomachs are ready to receive and digest the food.

The second chamber (also known as the granular chamber) is responsible for breaking down and dissolving large chunks of food that weren’t broken down through chewing.

The third chamber of their stomachs (also known as the pyloric chamber) regulates the digested food in their small intestines.

What Are Their Hunting Methods?

Now that everything is clear about what does a dolphin eat, let’s get to the part where we find out about their hunting techniques. Although known for traveling in groups, dolphins also hunt alone. They utilize several hunting methods to catch their prey.

Here are some of them:

1. Pinwheeling

Groups of dolphins surround schools of fish, trapping them in the middle. They even splash their tail flukes to force the fishes closer together. Then the dolphins take turns charging onto the fish to feed.

2. Divers and Blockers

This is a rare hunting technique where the group is divided into two: divers and blockers. The divers use their tail flukes to smack the water to drive schools of fishers to herd into a group. The blockers are responsible for keeping the fish from escaping.

3. Strand Feeding

With this feeding technique, dolphins bring schools of fish near the shores, mud banks, or sand bars. When trapped in shallow waters, fish are easier to catch.

4. Crater Feeding

Crater feeding is a hunting technique where the common bottlenose dolphin dives snout-first into the sand. This technique gives the element of surprise. The term “crater feeding” comes from the craters dolphins leave when they do this hunting method.

Marvel In the Beauty of Dolphins with Sunshine Scenic Tours

What dolphins eat, their nutrition, and their hunting techniques are fascinating. Get to know more about these friendly underwater creatures by going on a dolphin cruise in John’s Pass.

Sunshine Scenic Tours offers affordable and memorable dolphin cruises. Double the fun by bringing your family with you. Discover the rich history of John’s Pass in the midst of playful bottlenose dolphins in Florida. Book with us today!

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