What do dolphins eat?

In this article we are going to answer what dolphins eat, what are dolphins, what are dolphins known for, can dolphins be kept in captivity, what are some predators of dolphins, and are any species of dolphins considered endangered.

What do dolphins eat?

All dolphins eat fish but the specific food that is chosen by dolphins depends on the species and where they live, in seawater or freshwater. Dolphins are carnivores and they will eat a variety of species around the sea. 

Deep water Dolphins

It includes 3 types of dolphins known as rough-toothed dolphins, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, the dusky dolphin, and the Risso’s dolphins. They prefer to eat mullet, catfish, shrimps, squid, and anchovies. 

River dolphins

It includes the Indus River dolphin and the Amazon river dolphins which prefer to eat freshwater crustaceans such as gobies and carp. 

Spinner dolphins 

They prefer smaller fish and also eat jellyfish, krill, shrimp, and squid. 

Killer whales

They eat fish, seals, sea lions, and other species of whales and can even eat smaller dolphins. 

What are dolphins?

Dolphin or Odontoceti measures up to 32 feet and can weigh up to 6 tons. There are about 36 species found on sea waters and a few oceans can live in freshwater. The largest dolphin is the orca which can measure up to 30 feet long. 

Dolphins travel in groups, known as school or pods, and have a special characteristic in which they can communicate with squeaks, whistles, and clicks. 

Male dolphins are known as bulls while female dolphins are called cows and young dolphins are called calves. Dolphins have commonly hunted in Japan apart from being used to being kept in captivity. 

What are dolphins known for?

Dolphins have a unique personality and are one of the most intelligent animals followed by humans. They can be very playful and friendly to humans. The species of bottlenose dolphins are particularly friendly to humans and can be used in special therapies with humans. 

Dolphins are known to teach, learn, cooperate and grieve. They have a neocortex similar to humans which can help them to be involved in social conduct, emotions, judgment, and theory of mind. 

Can dolphins be kept in captivity?

Yes, especially bottlenose dolphins are kept in captivity in aquariums and parks where they are trained for special shows and to swim with tourists. Even if dolphins are animals that can be very social with humans, dolphins that are kept in captivity have to be treated with ulcer medications or antidepressants because of the frustration of living in captivity.

According to several studies, dolphins that are kept in captivity are more likely to have ulcers, stress, loss of appetite, and increased susceptibility to disease.

What are some predators of dolphins?

Dolphins have several predators in the deep sea. Some animals that eat dolphins include sharks especially tiger sharks, dusky sharks, bull sharks, and the great white shark. Sharks will more likely kill sick, older or lonely dolphins that can’t fight back because they can win the fight. 

The bigger the species of dolphin, the less prone they are to be eaten and can be at the top of the food chain. 

Humans are the biggest predator of dolphins. Pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other industrial pollutants have killed a huge quantity of dolphins, especially freshwater dolphins. 

Also, some fishing methods have put some species of dolphins in danger because they are caught by accident or purpose for the food industry. 

Are any species of dolphins considered endangered?

Yes, freshwater or river dolphins are more in danger. Sixteen species of whales and dolphins are considered to be in high danger of extinction according to the Endangered Species Act. 

River dolphins

They live in freshwater in Asia and South America. There are several river dolphins such as 

  • Baiji dolphins live in the most industrialized and polluted rivers in the world and it is in danger. Some scientists are concerned that baiji dolphins are already extinct. 
  • The Indus River lives in the Indus and Ganges Rivers in India. They are very affected by humans and are endangered. 
  • Maui Dolphin
  • Amazon River dolphin

Sea dolphins

  • Atlantic Humpback dolphins are in danger because of accidental bycatch by fisheries. 

Follow this link for more information about endangered dolphins. 


This article answered what dolphins eat, what dolphins are, what are dolphins known for, can dolphins be kept in captivity, what are some predators of dolphins, and are any species of dolphins considered endangered.




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