Dolphin Feeding Habits
A great deal of the time in a dolphin’s life is spent finding food. Depending on the species and their size, they can consume up to 30 pounds of fish per day. They use many method of hunting so that they can get their prey. They work as a team most of the time within their pods to get food. They tend to dine on fish, squid, and crustaceans. What they have access to though really depends on location. The Killer Whale also will consume various marine animals.
Migration is a part of life for most dolphins, and it is believed to be closely in relation to feeding. They have to move to find food so they will move to do so. The fish often move due to the temperatures in the water and to spawn. The dolphins have no choice but to go where the fish are.
In order to successfully hunt for schools of fish, the method of herding is very common. This involves the pod working together to circle the fish. As they do so the turbulence from the movements will gather then dolphins in the middle in a tight ball. The dolphins will plow through the center of it and eat fish as they do so. The fish are stunned so they aren’t going to be trying to escape. Some dolphins will use the muddy bank in the water to push the fish up against so they can’t escape.
The use of the fluke to hit and stun prey is also something dolphins take part in. This will cause the fish to become disoriented. There are places where fishermen and dolphins work as a team to get fish. The dolphins round them up in the water and the fishermen are able to cast their nets. The dolphins consume the leftover fish around the nets that escape.
When dolphins do hunt alone they have to use tactics that will help them get results without using lots of energy. They may move in random zig zag patterns or even go to certain well known locations in the water to get the best access to the fish. They aren’t as organized or coordinated when they hunt alone as they do when they are in a group.
With a group of dolphins, there is a strategy in place and each dolphin has a role in it. They use echolocation to help them identify the prey and to communicate successfully with each other. This allows them to be in sync for the successful hunting to occur. They are very intelligent and can change their strategy if they need to for better results.
It may seem that they are chaotic when the dolphins are all moving in different directions. Yet the reason for this is that it actually confuses the fish. Cooperative feeding allows larger amounts of prey to be found and for less energy to be spent by each dolphin to get their meals. The location can also affect the overall strategy. For example, when there are rocky areas that the fish can hide in.
With zig zag movements, they are able to block of those crevices that could allow large numbers of fish to escape. The mixture of more than one type of hunting strategy is very common as well. It allows the dolphins to improvise as needed for them to be able to get the results they seek. They may create new formations over time too so that they are able to remain top hunters. The high level of cooperation from the pod is the key to any successful dolphin hunt.
Some studies indicate that there are variations when it comes to hunting from one pod to the next. This leads them to believe that the younger generations in the pod are taught by the older generations and carry on those methods. Many people think that dolphins chew their food because they have teeth but they don’t. They may use them to grab prey with but they swallow their food. Therefore, what they go after has to always be small enough to do so.
With a few exceptions, all dolphin species have two stomachs. The first one is where the food is stored and the second is where the food is digested. Those that don’t have two stomachs have three divided chambers in their stomach region.
Hunting can occur at night for some dolphins and during the day with others. It all comes down to their species and what their habitat has to offer them. In locations where food sources are hard to find, they may hunt any time they find an opportunity to do so. When food is abundant, they can be very picky about what types of fish they will consume. Then they may bypass certain ones to dine on what they love the most.