Do Dolphins Eat Fish? – Useful Guide

do dolphins eat fish

Dolphins are some of the ocean’s top predators that actively hunt and seek out prey.

There are over forty different species of dolphin that live in a variety of environments from rivers, deep oceans, and estuaries.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the dolphin’s diet, and answer a question we find many of our readers asking. Do dolphins eat fish?

In a nutshell, yes they do eat fish. In fact, they LOVE fish. Although most dolphins have a varied diet, it most certainly does contain a lot of fish.

Let’s take a closer look…

Do Dolphins Actually Eat Fish?

Dolphins are carnivores, which means they feed on other animals. The type of food dolphins eat is going to largely depend on the species of dolphin.

However, all dolphins do eat fish. Some dolphins that live in the ocean also eat Jellyfish and Squid. They are opportunistic hunters, which means they will hunt and eat the fish that live in their surrounding environment.

An adult dolphin will actually eat around 5% of its body weight in food per day, with a large portion of that being fish.

Dolphins that are in captivity are fed on a diet that contains a variety of fish, with reach dolphins receiving 25 to 35 pounds of fish each day.

That’s a lot of fish!

What Type Of Fish Do Dolphins Eat?

The type of fish that dolphins eat is going to depend on what is available to them in their habitats.

The bottlenose dolphin, which lives in tropical waters and can be found in many places around the world typically feeds on Mullet, Mackrel, Catfish, and other tropical species of fish.

Whereas the Amazon River Dolphin, which lives in a completely different environment feeds on more than forty different species of fish, including Piranhas.

Spinner dolphins eat Fish, Jellyfish, and Krill, whilst Rough-toothed dolphins live in the deep ocean and will eat mostly squid.

Dolphins are incredibly intelligent, and over time they can start to develop a preference for the type of food that they eat.

Some dolphins prefer to eat Mackrel or Herring, whilst others prefer squid, so food can vary depending on individuals too.

Most dolphins eat a diet consisting of:

  • Mackrel
  • Salmon
  • Variety of small fish
  • Herring
  • Squid
  • Jellyfish
  • Octopus
  • Shrimp

Why Do Dolphins Eat Fish?

As mentioned earlier, dolphins are opportunistic hunters so it makes sense for them to eat the fish that live in their environment.

Fish are also rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as a great protein source. Dolphins get everything they need to grow and survive from eating fish.

As dolphins are incredibly intelligent, fish are easy prey for them. They can use their hunting techniques to quickly scoop up large amounts of fish, which makes feeding time easy for dolphins.

Dolphins also get all of the water they need from their food. Their main food source which is fish and squid contains large amounts of water.

How Do Dolphins Hunt Fish?

Dolphins have an incredible brain that scientists are now starting to understand more and more.

Widely considered to be the smartest animals in our ocean, dolphins can solve complex problems, have social interactions as well as pass on their knowledge to others.

This means that over time dolphins have come up with incredible hunting strategies that are incredibly effective.

The technique that dolphins use to hunt fish is going to depend on the species of dolphin, as well as the environment they are in.

A bottlenose dolphin may use techniques like a tail fluke, which is where the dolphin will flick the fish out of the water and then snap them up whilst in mid-air.

Another method dolphins use to hunt fish is working together in a group to herd schools of fish into a tightly packed area, and then each dolphin takes a turn at charging into the ball of fish.

Dolphins are so smart that they can even feed in association with human fishing operations.

Sometimes they will accompany shrimp trawls or other fishing vessels and take the fish that don’t quite make it into the net.

Easy pickings for the dolphin thanks to their extreme intelligence.

Final Thoughts

So, do dolphins eat fish? Yes, they do. Fish is one of the main sources of food in a dolphin’s diet, with all species of dolphin eating it.

The type of fish that dolphins eat is going to vary depending on which species of dolphin is in question, as well as their environments.

The geographical locations of different species of dolphin can vary widely, and therefore so can the types of fish they eat.

Hopefully, this post has been insightful and you’ve learned a thing or two about the fish dolphin eats as well as their diets.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to stick around to learn more about dolphins and other marine wildlife.