Do Dolphins Eat Shrimp? 6 Other Food Sources

There is an awful lot of information about the intelligence that dolphins portray, yet many of us know very little about the eating habits of these incredible mammals. We are aware that they eat fish, of course, but what kind, and what else?

For instance, do dolphins eat shrimp?

One of the main food sources for dolphins is shrimp and small fish. Dolphins also will eat squid, jellyfish, octopus, starfish, and consume up to 5% of their total body weight each day.

Dolphin Eating Fish

Main Sources of Food for Dolphins

The food available to dolphins is all dependent on their geographic location.

For instance, the dolphins you encounter around the coastline are more likely to feed on bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrates, whereas offshore mammals tend to dine out on fish and squid.

In fact, it’s been suggested that some offshore dolphins can maybe dive to depths of 500 meters or more in search of prey.

Common food that dolphins eat:

  • Fish
  • Squid
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Jellyfish
  • Starfish

Although these sociable mammals have teeth, they tend to swallow their food whole head first rather than chewing it. This is to avoid getting any bones from the fish lodged in their throat.

Swallowing larger fish whole, on the other hand, could pose a few problems for our clever mammals, so to ensure they can comfortably ingest these bigger fish, dolphins will either shake or rub them against something until they fall apart, making them easier to swallow.

Whether it’s big fish or small fish, it all adds up to a sizeable quantity, with an adult dolphin typically consuming around 5% of his body weight every day. To put it into perspective, a dolphin weighing 400 pounds would digest 20 pounds of fish, squid, and shrimp per day.

Teamwork By Dolphins

The intelligence of these aquatic mammals is put to good use when it comes to feeding time. Depending on their habitat, there are several ways in which they go about getting the supply of fish they need.

Dolphins often team up to herd fish and entice them into a trap between themselves and rocks at the sea’s bottom. This strategy is typically used by dolphins living close to the shore.

A ringing approach is more likely to be used by dolphins living in the open waters. A pod of dolphins would form a ring around a school of fish and they would either pick of the nearest ones or hurtle through the center of the trap hoovering up any fish in their way.

Sometimes it’s the easy option that works best, and you’ll often see a group of dolphins following fishing boats in the hope of fish being discarded and tossed overboard.

Dolphin Hunting Techniques

Some of the hunting techniques that dolphins employ are a little more complex and comical, albeit effective. It’s not unusual to see a dolphin use its tail flukes to flip a fish right out of the water, then go and retrieve the dazed quarry.

It may well sound comical, but it’s highly effective. As it’s known, crater feeding requires dolphins to dive snout first into the sandy bottom of the sea to grab any unsuspecting fish that may be lurking there.

It’s always nice to know what’s on the menu before ordering, and dolphins can determine what lies beneath by producing clicking sounds. They cleverly interpret the returning echoes that these sounds create; enabling them to determine the size, shape, and speed of the fish on the days’ menu.