Do Dolphins Eat Fish? 13 Facts Most of Us Don’t Know


Do Dolphins Eat Fish? 13 Facts Most of Us Don’t Know

Dolphins are one of the most well-known marine animals on the planet due to their smart and adorable nature. What’s not as well known, however, is whether or not dolphins eat fishes wild. Continue reading to know.

All dolphins are carnivores, with fish making up the majority of their diet. While some dolphins do eat other sea creatures, such as crustaceans and cephalopods, fish make up the largest portion of the dolphin’s diet.

Key Takeaways

TopicKey Points
Dolphins’ Carnivorous NatureAll dolphins are carnivores, with fish being a major part of their diet. They also consume other sea creatures like crustaceans and cephalopods, but fish form the largest portion of their diet.
Fish in Dolphins’ DietDolphins eat various species of fish, including mullet, mackerel, catfish, and more. They are skilled hunters with advanced sensory systems and exceptional vision to detect prey.
Dietary Habits of Baby DolphinsBaby dolphins initially eat fish with their mothers’ guidance. As they grow, they learn to catch fish on their own, using their long, thin beaks to capture small fish such as anchovies and herring.
Variety in Dolphin DietDifferent dolphin species may have varying preferences for fish sizes and types. Some eat small fish, while others consume large fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. The diet can also vary based on the region they inhabit.
Dolphin Feeding BehaviorDolphins can eat fish both alive and dead, depending on the availability of food in their environment. They are efficient hunters and can attack prey by biting into the brain or spine, often chewing on the head and spine before swallowing.
Daily Fish ConsumptionOn average, dolphins can consume 25 to 50 pounds of fish per day, accounting for approximately 90% of their diet. The quantity may vary based on factors like their age and the type of fish they are eating.
Dolphins’ Preference for JellyfishDeepwater dolphins, like Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and Risso’s dolphins, are more likely to include jellyfish in their diet due to their habitat. Not all dolphins enjoy eating jellyfish, as they have a slippery texture and can be challenging to catch.

Fish tend to be abundant in the dolphin’s natural habitat, especially schools of small fish that can be scooped up in one quick movement by flapping their fins through the water’s surface or by rolling over on their backs to trap their prey against their body.

Do all Dolphins eat fish?

Now, we know dolphins do eat fish, but whether all of them eat fish or not is still unclear. Since there are various assumptions on this, let’s find out today. 

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All dolphins do eat fish, infact dolphins living in deep oceans also have been known to include squid and jellyfish in their diet. Dolphins enjoy different species of fish like mullet, mackerel, catfish and more.

Dolphins need to consume enough food in order to survive, as well as stay healthy. Therefore, they have evolved to eat fish and these marine mammals are typically very good at catching their prey using highly developed sensory systems. 

Dolphins have an exceptional vision that allows them to see even the tiniest of prey in the water and once they detect a meal, they will start chasing it until it is caught or escapes.

Do Baby Dolphins eat fish?

You must have seen or watched videos of baby dolphins playing with fish but do they eat fish like their mothers do? Read below to know

Baby dolphins do eat fish with their mothers’ guidance, but eventually they learn to catch fish on their own. When young dolphins are only a few months old, their mothers begin to carry them in shallow water so that they can begin to eat little fish such as anchovies and herring,

In the process of catching fish mother dolphins also help their calves obtain food by taking an active role in catching fish.

Wonder how little dolphins do that? So, the young dolphins catch these fish by reaching out their long, thin beaks and wrapping it around the fish’s body which ultimately helps in their brain development. 

What kind of fish do Dolphins eat?

Fishes make up about 65% of the dolphin’s diet on average, this might make people wonder what kind of fish do dolphins eat in general? Do they feed on salmon, tuna? Or do they hunt on bigger fishes? Let’s examine. 

Some species, like bottlenose dolphins, have been observed eating squid and catching small fish such as herring or mackerel from the water’s surface. Atlantic spotted dolphins often hunt for food at depths of up to 200 meters, where they can eat sawfish and other fish.

However, it’s interesting to know that these mammals can be ferocious hunters, especially when it comes to eating fish. Their favorite prey are smaller fish such as sardines and anchovies, but sometimes they hunt on bigger fish, including tuna, mahi-mahi and sharks 

Do Dolphins Eat Fish Alive? 

Dolphins are incredibly intelligent, social animals that seem to be some of the most highly evolved creatures on Earth but does that mean they are intelligent enough to eat fish alive? Let’s find the answer to this!

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This is true, dolphins do hunt and eat fish alive. Not only this, they were observed attacking fishermen. dolphins kill their prey by biting into the brain or spine. They’ll often chew on the head and spine of a fish for around ten minutes before swallowing it whole.

Do Dolphins Eat Dead Fish?

Have you ever wondered if dolphins eat dead fish? The answers to this and so many other questions about the ocean-dwelling mammal might surprise you! 

Generally, dolphins do not eat dead fish, they do so only when there is shortage of fish in the ocean. Dolphins might eat trash fish thrown over the side during shrimping but they might not eat dead fish. 

How Many Pounds of Fish Do Dolphins Eat a Day?

Since they are such powerful hunters, many people wonder how much fish dolphins eat each day, but the answer can be a bit complicated since different dolphins eat different amounts of fish. Read on to learn more. 

On average, dolphins will eat 25 to 50 pounds of fish every day if they weigh 400 to 500 pounds. The reason why dolphins consume so much fish is because it makes up 90% of their diet. 

However, the amount of fish they consume entirely depends upon factors like their age and type of fish they are consuming. 

For instance- Mackerel and herring contain a lot of fat so dolphins don’t have to consume much of this type of food. However, if they hunt squids they need to consume more of the fish since they are low in fat. 

What Size Fish Do Dolphins Eat?

It’s common knowledge that dolphins eat fish, but what are their preferences? Do they have a particular preference with the size of the fish they eat? Read below to know. 

Dolphins are carnivores and prefer various sizes of fish including small, medium or large. Their diet consists of aquatic animals and crustaceans. But note that dolphin’s diet is not static, they can switch their preference with time. 

Do Dolphins Eat Large Fish?

 Are you interested in the dietary habits of dolphins? Do you wonder if dolphins eat large fish? Well, you are not alone as most people are curious about it. So let’s have a look at this topic in detail

Dolphins eat large fish, but they also eat fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon. Dolphin’s digestive system is designed to digest large fish whole due to their need to eat fast. 

Thus, All dolphins eat fish, but not all eat large fish. The most common dolphin fish is small finned fish and seahorses. However a dolphin can also eat water snakes and some larger sharks

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Do Dolphins Eat Small Fish?

Dolphins are incredibly intelligent and playful creatures, especially when they are around with small fishes. But do dolphins eat small fish?

Dolphins eat all kinds of seafood including fish and shrimp, but can also be found in the ocean eating clams, squid, and invertebrates, however, their diet consists of eating a lot of fish in a day. 

Do Bottlenose Dolphins Eat Fish?

Being the most intelligent dolphin species, There are various speculations on bottlenose dolphins diet. While some think they do not consume fish others are of the opinion that they do. Let’s find out. 

Being a carnivore, it is true that bottlenose dolphins do eat a variety of fish. Infact 90% of their diet consists of fish. Majorly they like eating Eels, hake, catfish and mullet fish. 

However, the favorite food of bottlenose dolphins usually depends upon the region in which they are living. For instance if dolphins live in coastal waters, they will eat fish and invertebrates like shrimp. However, if dolphins live in deep water they eat squid and fish. 

Do Dolphins Eat Tuna Fish?

 Do dolphins eat tuna fish? This is a question that we like to ask ourselves when buying tuna. However, the truth is that although dolphins do eat tuna fish, it isn’t nearly as frequent as one might think. 

Dolphins do eat tuna fish. However, tuna fish is not their primary prey. The dolphins mainly eat small marine animals and other sea creatures. In addition, large fish like the mahi-mahi and mackerel constitute a larger part of their diet.

Do Dolphins Eat Puffer Fish?

Do dolphins eat puffer fish or do they avoid eating them? Let’s find out. 

Dolphins are also known to consume puffer fish in order to experience an altered state of consciousness. These marine mammals are frequent visitors to the coasts and estuaries of Japan, where they often feast on the puffer fish they find in those waters. 

Do Dolphins Eat jellyfish?

You must have seen or heard dolphins playing frisbee with jellyfish. It is common for dolphins to play with little jellyfish, but do they eat jellyfish as well? Let’s find out

While all dolphins eat fish, those in deep oceans also devour much more squid and jellyfish than those who don’t. The reason for this is simple: they can’t survive without it! When there is a big floating of jellyfish population in the open ocean, dolphin will have plenty of opportunities to snack on them as well

However, dolphins do not get many chances to eat jellyfish because of the fact that they have slippery bodies thus it is difficult to hunt on them. Apart from that they use mindful tactics to save themselves from dolphins. 

Do all Dolphins Eat Jellyfish? 

Now, we know dolphins can eat jellyfish but do all dolphins have the privilege to eat jellyfish? Or do all of them enjoy eating jellyfish? Let’s find out. 

Not all dolphins but generally deepwater dolphins eat jellyfish. Usually Dolphins like Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and Risso’s dolphins have a significant portion of jellyfish in their diet due to the greater availability as they live in deepwater. 

Dolphins usually do not enjoy eating jellyfish considering the fact that they have slippery texture thus they are hard to catch and also because they are not easier to digest. 

Also, dolphins do not like eating all types of jellyfish. For instance- moon jellyfish is one of the kinds that they do not enjoy eating. 


The short answer is yes, dolphins do eat fish. A dolphin’s diet mainly consists of fish, although they will eat squid, shellfish and other marine animals when available. Just like us humans, dolphins need the protein that fish contains in order to survive. Dolphins have a great sense of smell, which allows them to find schools of fish from long distances away.

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