Dolphins & Whales

What Do Dolphins Eat?

Today's Wild Animal Facts: What Do Dolphins Eat?

The US Fish & Wildlife Service warns that feeding dolphins can harm the animals. Not only are human snacks unhealthy for the popular sea mammals, but other dangers are involved as well.

Two Dolphins Kissing In The Water
Two Dolphins Kissing In The Water

What do dolphins eat?

Dolphin food consists of live fish, which the dolphins catch themselves before gulping them down whole without chewing. Later, they regurgitate bones and other indigestible parts. Dolphins hunt in groups, often cooperating to surround and concentrate groups of fish, and the hunting of fish constitutes a large part of their social lives.

Recently on this site, we featured a new environmental movie called “The Cove,” which documents the intentional slaughter of dolphins for food in a Japanese fishing down. (Click here to view a trailer.) But it is also possible to kill or injure dolphins with misguided kindness.

The US Fish & Wildlife Services recently issued a reminder to anyone who lives near or visits dolphin habitats that giving handouts to the appealing creatures can do them a lot of harm. Not only is it bad for dolphins to eat the wrong kind of food or even too much of the right kind, but feeding dolphins disrupts their family lives: They learn to depend on humans rather than on other dolphins to help them get food. In addition, human feeding of dolphins teaches them to approach boats, where they are in great danger of being struck, and injured or killed, by a spinning propellor.

Wild Dolphins Feeding On The Fishes
Wild Dolphins Feeding On The Fishes

Certainly, dolphins are fun to watch whenever we are lucky enough to see them in the wild. However, it’s best to enjoy them from a distance, without interfering with the wild habits, instincts, and behaviors that they have developed over millions of years. The answer to the question “What do dolphins eat?” should always continue to be “whatever fish they can catch on their own.”

Wildlife experts agree that people should not feed any wild animals except, perhaps, the birds that come to their backyard bird feeders. —P.G.

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