What Is a Dolphin's Main Source of Food?

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Dolphins are carnivores and eat a variety of small fish, squid and shrimp. The large mammals sometimes hunt in groups but also feed alone. Researchers have found that dolphins, like humans, can acquire tastes for different things. Some dolphins prefer to eat mackerel or herring while others favor squid. The most common food source is fish.

Fish, Squid and Shrimp

The main staple of a dolphin’s diet depends on where the animal lives. Dolphins that live along the coast eat more fish and small crustaceans, such as crabs or sand fleas, according to research from Seaworld. Dolphins living offshore eat more fish and squid; dolphins farther offshore eat some deep-sea fish.


Dolphins move in pods and will also hunt as a group that surrounds a school of small fish and crowd them together. Then dolphins take turns feeding as the other members of the pod look on. Other dolphins corral schools of fish into shallow water to feed. Dolphins also find food on their own and might eat non-schooling fish.


Typically, a dolphin will swallow a fish whole--head first, so bones will not become stucks while going down. An adult dolphin can eat between 4 percent and 6 percent of its body weight in one day.

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