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NOW READING:  What Do Dolphins Eat? Things You Should Know

What do dolphins eat

 What Do Dolphins Eat? Things You Should Know

There are about 40 species of dolphin in the sea. They are in environments like coastal waters, estuaries, and freshwater rivers. They are active predators and can eat various sea creatures like shrimps, squids, or fish. So, with that, you may be curious about what do dolphins eat?

Know What Do Dolphins Eat

Dolphins are known to be spectacular creatures. Many would love to watch them live and play in their habitats. However, most of them are opportunistic feeders, and their food may vary depending on their geographic location. So, in this blog, you will have ideas about what dolphins eat and understand why they prefer those.

What does a dolphin eat

Dolphins as Meat Eaters

Dolphins are meat-eaters or carnivores. However, the certain type of food they eat may vary depending on their habitat and species. As to small dolphins, they eat fish of different species and squids and other cephalopods. On the other hand, large dolphins prefer to eat sea lions, seals, and other dolphins. They even eat sea turtles and whales.

Moreover, dolphins show a strong preference for specific species of fish. The coastal dolphins prefer to eat bottom-dwelling invertebrates and fish. There are also Offshore dolphins that prefer to eat squid and fish. And some of them were found with deep-sea fishes in their stomachs as offshore dolphins are proven to dive about 1,600 ft.

So, what do dolphins eat? Whatever food they prefer, a dolphin’s feeding habits may be flexible, depending on the available food in their habitat. There are also bottlenose dolphins that feed on small fish, but they may also seek squid, octopus, crabs, shrimp, and other small sea creatures. And dolphins that live in deep oceans also eat jellyfish and squid.

Understanding Dolphin’s Source of Food

When it comes to survival, the most crucial part of living for marine mammals like dolphins is looking and obtaining their food source. Unfortunately, with so many fishes and other kinds of prey, dolphins most likely have a hard time growing in the ocean and preventing certain kinds of environments where a certain food source is likely to live.

They usually hunt in pod or group and make use of different techniques like:


A method of hunting is when dolphins move the fish to shallow waters to prevent them from escaping. It would be easier for them to catch with the Corralling method.


Herding happens when a dolphin pod comes in a group of fish to gather them as much as possible. Then, they eat through the large group of fish, which is their common method to allow them to eat efficiently.


It is when dolphins produce sound waves. When they come up with these waves, they reflect on the fish and pinpoint the location of their prey.


This is when dolphins hit their target with their tails. This is one way of confusing or stunning them, so it would be easier to catch. Usually, this method can be used to hunt larger sea creatures like whales.

What dolphins eat in the ocean
What dolphins usually eats

Kinds of Dolphins: What do they Eat? 

Now that you’re familiar with what dolphins eat, knowing their kinds would make you understand. Here’s a list of different kinds of dolphins and the food they eat.

Bottlenose Dolphins

They are found worldwide, most especially in tropical and temperate seas. The type of food they eat varies according to where they live and the time of the year. For example, bottlenose dolphins in Scotland and Moray Firth prefer eating salmon when it’s available during the summer and spring months.

They also eat mackerel and herring in the winter since salmon are scarce. Furthermore, Bottlenose dolphins live elsewhere. So they eat their favorite local fish like catfish, mackerel, mullet, and more tropical fish species. And since they have teeth, they just grab, bite, and chew on their food, and swallow.

Dolphin eating habit

Amazon River Dolphins 

Amazon river dolphins are known to eat more than forty different species of fish in freshwater. They are carnivorous, and they also like to eat freshwater crustaceans, crabs, and fish. They even consume piranhas and other local fish. Furthermore, this dolphin species is included in the River dolphin family. And as their name suggests, these dolphin species are usually found in rivers.


The biggest members of the dolphin family are orcas. They are found mostly in Northern British Columbia in Canada. They are known only to eat fish, and their favorite is salmon. However, other orcas specialize in eating bigger food, including mammals like whales, dolphins, and sea lions. They even eat seabirds!

Their diet varies on the food that is available to them. It depends on where they live and the kind of technique that they learned from older dolphins in hunting their food.

River Dolphins 

Like Amazon River Dolphins, the River Dolphins like to eat shrimps, crabs, fish, and turtles. They’re like the Bolivian River Dolphin that feeds on the same diet of unidentified crabs and fish species.

How Much Can Dolphins Eat?

Now that you somehow understand what dolphins eat, you should also know the amount of food they should eat. The amount of fish and other sea creatures a dolphin should eat depends on the fish they hunt.

On average, dolphins that weigh around 400-500 pounds can eat between 25-50 pounds of fish every day, and that’s a lot of fish. For example, herring and mackerels have so much fat, and squids don't. That said, dolphins should eat more squid to withstand their appetite and boost their energy for their lifestyle.

Key Takeaway 

Like humans who look for food to eat to live, the same goes with dolphins, as they do whatever they can just to eat. It’s in their nature; to eat their kind and some other creatures in the sea. But, despite a dolphin’s feeding abilities, they don’t always stay in the same place for long because they might run out of food quickly.

That is why they migrate to other environments and may still return to their previous habitat when there is food already. Hopefully, you already understand what dolphins eat. And as humans, we only need to let dolphins be. Let us prevent doing things that could harm them and could prevent them from eating. One way is taking care of the ocean since taking care of it will also give them the chance to eat the food they usually eat.

Join us here in ATOLEA on our desire to preserve the ocean. With every purchase you made from our Ocean-inspired jewelry, we are donating part of it to Ocean conservation charities. In this way, we are able to contribute to every drive and campaign in saving marine life in its natural habitat.

So check out our elegant Ocean-inspired jewelry now and start wearing your accessories with meaning!

What dolphins meal in the ocean

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