The first thing you need to know when we talk about dolphin nutrition is that it depends on the species and where they live. Some feed on fish such as sawfish or mackerel, others feed on squid and, finally, killer whales, they can also feed on other mammals or turtles. However, their eating habits vary according to habitat and available resources.
If we are talking specifically about bottlenose dolphins or bottlenose dolphins, these feed mainly on small fish, but they can also feed on squid, crab, octopus, shrimp, or other small animals. It is interesting to know that, even though they have teeth, these creatures do not chew their food, but try to swallow their prey whole. How do they do it? What they do is expel the saltwater with the tongue and throat muscles and thereby push the fish inward.
To get food, they hunt in groups using different techniques. One of these is a kind of “pasture”, through which a group of dolphins surrounds the entire school of fish to make them pile up, while some begin to eat them and then take over for the others. In this way, everyone is able to feed themselves sufficiently. Another more individual method is that which involves trapping the fish in shallow water where it is more difficult for them to escape and therefore easier to catch; alternatively, the dolphins use their tails to hit and stun them in order to facilitate hunting in this way.
Finally, another way to get food involves using the sound waves that dolphins are able to emit . This technique is known as “eco-localization” and is based on the possibility of reflecting the sound waves emitted on the fish: in this way the dolphins are able to know exactly where the fish are. This technique works just like a radar echo and thus demonstrates the great intelligence of these creatures.
Despite their ability to forage for food, dolphins don’t stay in the same area for very long. This is because if they did, the food they eat would run out quickly. It is precisely this that pushes dolphins to migrate to areas where there is a greater quantity of food and then periodically return to the same place.
Now that we know what dolphins eat, one might wonder if they need water. Unlike humans, dolphins do not need to drink water as they get it through food.