What do bottlenose dolphins eat?
Like most species of marine dolphins, bottlenose dolphins eat mainly small marine animals such as small fish, squid, crabs and shrimp. Although bottlenose dolphins have plenty of teeth, they do not have strong enough jaw muscles to be able to chew their food, so they are restricted to eating only what they can swallow whole.
Bottlenose dolphins do sometimes search for food alone and this is when they are more likely to eat crabs, crustaceans and other small animals found along or close to the sea bed. When hunting in groups they will consume a lot more fish as it is easier to herd and control a shoal of fish when they work together. Bottlenose dolphins will close in on a group of fish and trap them in the middle of the pod. They will swim in a circle around the fish and will not let them escape. They will then take it in turns for members of the pod to eat their fill whilst the others continue to keep the fish contained in a small space. Common bottlenose dolphins often find themselves in trouble when it comes to fisheries as they get themselves tangled up in nets. One of the reasons that bottlenose dolphins are so regularly caught up in fishing nets is because they are attracted to large quantities of fish in a concentrated area. This is the way they hunt in groups, so when they see a large number of fish gathered in a net, they swim towards it to try and make the most of a readily available food source. As they try to eat the fish, they themselves can also become tangled in the net and are often unable to escape.
Bottlenose dolphins are the most common type of dolphin kept in captivity. If they are living in aquariums, sealife centers and commercial resorts they will be unable to hunt in the same way that they would in the wild, but trainers and keepers must try their best to replicate their natural diet. They cannot hunt, but are often made to work for their meals so that both their bodies and brains are kept active. Captive dolphins are fed a mixture of different fresh fish and it often becomes part of the experience of swimming with dolphins or attending a dolphin show to help out with their feeding.Dolphin Facts | Dolphin Information | Dolphin Species | Dolphins FAQ