Dolphins are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals in the world. They are odontocete cetacean mammals (a subdivision of the suborder Cetacea), in which, on the one hand, we find freshwater dolphins and, on the other, marine dolphins. These aquatic mammals are recognizable by the shape of their bodies as well as by the shape of their heads. In the areas where they live, it is common to see them out of the water jumping over the waves. These animals are carnivorous and have different hunting tactics, another characteristic that makes them wonderful creatures.
Here, in a nutshell, is what a dolphin eats:
Are dolphins carnivorous?
Dolphins are cetacean mammals, meaning they are aquatic, marine or freshwater species. When they are just born, like the rest of the mammals, they feed on their mother’s milk, which provides them with all the nutrients they need. Around a year and a half, they gradually start eating other types of food until they reach adulthood. Once they reach this stage, they are completely independent and self-sufficient and can begin to hunt their prey on their own.
Once they are adults, their diet is exclusively carnivorous. Although they have teeth (the number of teeth can vary from 50 to 100 depending on the species), dolphins do not chew their food, except that they gobble it up entirely, using only their teeth to tear the skin of their prey. Dolphins are gregarious animals, which gives them a distinct advantage when hunting and capturing their daily bread.
What does a dolphin eat?
Generally, dolphins first attack the head of their prey because, in the case of fish, some studies say that this behavior allows dolphins to keep their bones and fins back, which allows them to handle them better and not hurt themselves. Larger dolphins may end up eating large prey that can weigh up to 5 kg, while smaller dolphins are content with smaller prey. Here are some of the animals that make up a dolphin’s diet:
As for his daily needs, they will vary according to the type of prey he eats, as each type of fish will provide him with more or fewer nutrients and energy. Some studies suggest that an adult dolphin needs to consume about 1/3 of its body weight daily.
Like many other animals, dolphins migrate in search of food because if they stay too long in the same place they deplete the natural resources, so they prefer to leave and come back.
In general, the fish they consume the most are small, as well as squid and crustaceans that allow them to digest as quickly as possible. Other fish that dolphins eat are :
How do you hunt dolphins?
Now that you know what the dolphin eats, wouldn’t you like to know how it hunts?
Dolphins can emit sound waves that allow them to sense the location of their prey. These waves act like a sonar that allows them to know the exact position of their food. This technique is called echolocation and is also used by other animals.
Dolphins can also use their swimming speed to form U-shaped eddies in which their prey will be enclosed. This technique is called grazing and they do it in groups, and as soon as their prey is trapped, they take turns eating.
Dolphins can work very well in groups because their way of communicating is just as incredible.
Stunning their prey
According to some researchers, dolphins are also able to stun their potential prey with sounds or noises, which greatly facilitates their capture.
Dolphins can also feed on fish that are trapped in fishing nets.
Another technique, used by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), for example, is to push schools of fish to shallow areas so that they can be caught in fishermen’s nets. This technique is known as aqua-planning. Here is a clear case of cooperation because it is a collaboration between fishermen and dolphins: the fishermen let the dolphins feed on the captured fish until they swim away, after which the fishermen keep the rest of the catch.
Another method is the one known as the “mud curtain”: dolphins pull their prey into shallow water and towards the shore to lift the mud to create a kind of curtain that prevents them from moving or getting out easily, which is the moment the dolphins choose to hunt them.
Dolphin hunting techniques are extremely interesting because they can catch their prey up to a depth of 100 meters. Also, they use echolocation to orient themselves in depths where sunlight is unknown, which is so effective that even blind species, such as the Ganges River dolphin (Platanista gangetica), are formidable hunters. This mechanism also allows them to detect the size of their prey.