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How Dolphins Eat

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.


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