What Do Dolphins Eat? Dolphins are smart aquatic mammals classified under the category of toothed whales. They can be found globally, especially in the shallow sea waters and powerful rivers. Dolphins are mostly carnivorous feeding on a diet of crustaceans, squids, crabs, clams, and a wide array of fish species.
Table of Contents
What Do Dolphins Eat?
|Type of Dolphin||Diet|
|River Dolphin||Fish, crabs, shrimps, and turtles|
|Oceanic Dolphin||Squids and larger fish; Orcas feed on bottlenose dolphins.|
Dolphin Diet by Types
Dolphins are aquatic mammals and are members of the infraorder Cetacea. Presently, 43 dolphin species have been described, and these have further been grouped into two families, which includes the river and oceanic dolphins. This section will cover these broader types of dolphins while mentioning a few notable examples under each family.
What Do River Dolphins Eat?
River dolphins, including the Amazon river dolphins, eat fish, crabs, shrimps, and turtles. The Bolivian river dolphin feeds on a similar diet of unidentified fish species and crabs.
- This family of dolphins includes examples like the Amazon river dolphin, Ganges river dolphin, Indus river dolphin, Bolivian river dolphin, Irrawaddy river dolphin, and the Yangtze river dolphin.
- As their family suggests, these dolphins are found in the world’s mighty rivers and have their habitats in the fresh waters, especially those of South America and Asia.
- When compared to their oceanic counterparts, the river dolphins are smaller in size.
What Do Oceanic Dolphins Eat?
Oceanic dolphins such as the bottlenose dolphins feed on squids and larger fish, while the orcas (largest dolphin species) feed on other dolphins like the bottlenose.
- Oceanic dolphins are the largest family of dolphins containing over 39 species.
- Notable examples include the bottlenose dolphins, dusky dolphins, spinner dolphins, and killer whales. These species are found in marine waters habitats.
How do Dolphins Hunt?
Dolphins hunt using various hunting strategies that involve the effort of all the members of a pod (a group of dolphins). Dolphins can also hunt individually.
- One strategy they use is referred to as herding. In this method, the pod surrounds a group of fish with the intent of getting them in one place. The dolphins then start eating the fish bait in turns.
- The second strategy is dubbed corralling. In this method, the dolphins confine fish to shallow waters where they cannot escape, thus making it easier for them to catch their prey.
- Dolphins also use eco-localization tactics for hunting their food. The dolphins emit sound waves which are reflected in their prey, making it easier for them to locate and capture them.
When Do Dolphins Eat?
Dolphins can be nocturnal or diurnal, and they can also display a variation between nocturnal and diurnal behavior.
- Nocturnal or diurnal behavior exhibited by the dolphins depends on the species. For instance, the spinner dolphin is nocturnal, meaning it will be active at night looking for food and then rest during the daylight.
- Other species like the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins display an adaptation to crepuscular or nocturnal forging activity.
How Often Do Dolphins Eat?
Dolphin feeding habits are pretty much flexible meaning they can quickly adapt to the conditions in their habitats.
- Dolphins utilize a good portion of their time every day in search of food and so how often they feed, and the quantity of food they eat depends on their species.
- It is worth to note most dolphins consume 2 to 10 % of their body weight every day, and so this statistic gives a clue of how often and how much a particular dolphin species will eat to meet its daily energy requirement.
What Eats Dolphins?
Dolphins are an excellent source of nutrition for predators, considering they have exceptionally high-fat content. Interestingly, dolphins have fewer natural enemies, and this is because they are more trouble to hunt that possible predators opt to avoid them. The few examples of their natural enemies which hunt them for food include humans and aquatic organisms like the killer whales and sharks.
Where do Dolphins fit in the Animal Food Chain?
Dolphins are essential to the animal food chain, especially in promoting the presence of a balance to the ecosystem.
- Dolphins are considered as apex predators, feeding on several squid and fish species, thus preventing overpopulation of these organisms.
- They are instrumental to the animal food chain because they are the prey of creatures like sharks, killer whales, and humans.
Caring for dolphins is essential, especially in looking to protect wildlife and maintaining a balance in the marine and freshwater ecosystems fauna.
Cite This Page
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- “A Dolphin Diet | The UCSB Current”. Accessed June 21, 2019. Link.
- “Why Your Dream Of Swimming With Hawaii Dolphins May Never Come True | HuffPost”. Accessed June 21, 2019. Link.
- “Structured diurnal activity pattern – Dolphin Watch Alliance”. Accessed June 21, 2019. Link.
- “Dolphins | WWF”. Accessed June 21, 2019. Link.