Methods of collecting food
Bottlenose dolphins do not chew their food. Usually they swallow
fish whole, head first, so the spines of the fish won't catch
in their throats. They break larger fish by shaking them or
rubbing them on the ocean floor. Hunting strategies are varied
and diverse: Bottle-nose dolphins often cooperate when hunting
and catching fish.
In open waters, a dolphin pod sometimes encircles a large
school of fish and herds them into a small, dense mass, sometimes
using their tail flukes to stun the fish. The dolphins take
turns charging through the school to feed. Occasionally dolphins
herd schools of fish against a sand bar or shoreline to trap
them in shallow water where they are easy prey. Dolphins use
their powerful tail flukes when hunting, by hitting a fleeing
fish up into the air with their tail, stunning it, then scooping
the fish up when it falls back into the water.