What do Dolphins Eat?

Joyfully Leaping Bottlenose Dolphin in Clearwater Bay, Florida

Dolphins are the ocean’s top predators, so how do dolphins feed? They eat all sorts of fish, squid and shrimp just to name a few! What they can find in their habitat varies from place to place. Dolphins are also opportunistic feeders who do take advantage not only what’s around but also where in order to maximize hunting success some areas having lots more seafood than others. Let’s look into some dolphin diet facts.

According to scientists, these dolphin mammals‘ diet usually consists of 4% – 6% of their body weight per day. A nursing mother will eat 8%. Let’s dive into exactly what do dolphins eat!

Do dolphins eat meat or plants?

Dolphins are carnivores, but their diet depends on the type of dolphin. Fish like sawfish and mackerel make up a large part of some wild dolphins’ diets while other species hunt for squid in deep waters or stay closer to shore where they can eat fishes such as herring and other small fish.


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How many stomachs do dolphins have?

Dolphins have three stomachs, which act as a storage unit for swallowed food. The first chamber receives the food and is responsible for holding it until all of the other two chambers are ready to work on digesting it. The second compartment breaks down any large pieces that were not broken up by chewing or grinding in order to dissolve them. The third compartment is where they will be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine like nutrients.

Dolphin hunting methods

Dolphins generally do look for ways to make life easier and more efficient. Let’s look at some of the hunting techniques dolphins use in deep seas and open oceans.

  • One way that they do this is by herding, a technique in which dolphins surround fish schools or other prey animals tightly as possible with their bodies at the water’s surface until there’s just one remaining bit of space left.
  • Corralling is a technique wherein dolphins herd animals to certain areas where they are easier for the hunter to catch.
  • With their mesmerizing eyes and dexterous tail, dolphins are masters of stealth. They do use this skill to stun or confuse prey before they attack with a swift move from the side.
  • Eco-localization is a process that dolphins have developed in which they emit and reflect soundwaves, making them able to find food from long distances away.
  • Now you can understand how some people refer to these marine mammals as “masters of group hunting.”


How long can a dolphin hold it’s breath?

When Dolphins swim down into the depths of the ocean for fish, they are actually holding their breath. The length of time that dolphins can hold their breath varies based on a few factors. Bottlenose dolphins, for example, can stay underwater for around 8 to 10 minutes.


Dolphin holds its breath underwater

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What types of food do Dolphins eat?

Dolphins are busy mammals who enjoy eating different types of fish depending on what is available. Mackerels and herring have a lot of fat, but squid do not so they must eat more quantities to fuel their hungry stomachs for the day ahead. Dolphins can be found in many oceans around the world because food availability varies from region to region!

  • Variety of small fish
  • Shrimp
  • Mackeral 
  • Herring 
  • Squid 
  • Jellyfish
  • Octopuses

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Dolphins are one of the most intelligent creatures in our oceans. From spy-hopping to play, dolphins live amazing lives, and watching them is a thrilling adventure back into nature’s beauty!

Interested in watching dolphins in their natural habitat? Join us on our amazing dolphin sightseeing tours that sails through some of Florida’s most beautiful areas! You’ll get to explore the area and watch these majestic creatures swim free.

If you need help tying a fishing hook, check out our guide!

Check out our collection of fish jokes that will keep you laughing.


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