What do dolphins eat?
Dolphins eat a variety of different marine animals. They eat many different types of fish, but depending on the species of dolphin they will also eat, squid, octopus, crabs, crustaceans and shrimp. Some dolphins eat krill but they are not really adapted to be able to eat enough quantities of krill to give them all of the energy that they need.
They catch and kill their own prey rather than stealing food from other animals and tend to have a variety of different hunting methods. Some dolphins use their tails to hit their prey with considerable force, stunning it and then eating it whilst it is unable to move.
Other dolphins use the white, reflective surface of their bellies to temporarily dazzle fish, this disorientates them and allows them to pounce whilst the fish are unable to swim as quickly. Dolphins tend to hunt in groups and will surround shoals of fish from different angles, trapping them and taking it in turns to feast on the unsuspecting fish whilst the other members of the group make sure that they stay contained within the circle.
They only catch food which they can eat whole as they have very weak jaw muscles and are therefore unable to break larger animals down into smaller pieces. They only use their teeth to grasp their food and to hold it still before they swallow it whole.
Killer whales are the only dolphins which will kill and eat other mammals. Examinations of their stomach contents have found that they will even hunt and kill other species of dolphin, although they tend to prey on sea lions, seals and even some types of shark.
River dolphins are the only real type of dolphin which seems to prefer to hunt alone. Many of them are bottom feeders, so eat mainly smaller creatures like shrimp and crabs which they can find living on the sea or river bed.
As dolphins are mammals, the mothers produce milk to nurse the babies as they grow. This means that for at least the first year of a dolphin’s life, they exist entirely on their mother’s milk. The age of becoming fully weaned varies from species to species, but there are some reports which have seen dolphins as old as 4 years old still drinking their mother’s milk. Various footage has been recorded of older dolphins teaching babies to hunt. This proves that it is not necessarily a natural instinct but is a learned behavior which must be passed on from one generation to the next.Dolphin Facts | Dolphin Information | Dolphin Species | Dolphins FAQ