Bottlenose dolphins eat fish, squid, shrimp, and eels. Although all bottlenose dolphins will share common hunting techniques, different pods (groups) of dolphins often have different techniques for catching fish. For instance, a pod of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia use sea sponges (a sea sponge is an animal that lives attached to hard objects in the water) to protect their rostrums (seeBasic Anatomy) while they stir up fish on the bottom. In the twisting saltwater rivers around the Florida/Georgia border, the dolphins will work together to chase fish up onto the shore and temporarily beach themselves as they grab any fish within their reach. A commonly shared hunting behavior used by bottlenose dolphins is whacking a fish with their flukes (see Basic Anatomy), stunning the fish and therefore making it easy to grab.
Although dolphins have very sharp teeth, they don’t chew their food but instead swallow it whole. If a bottlenose dolphin catches a fish that is too big for it to swallow, it will whack it against a hard object until it breaks into smaller pieces.Dolphins work together to capture fish. They are good at cooperating with each other and even taking turns.
To prevent being poked, bottlenose dolphins will strip the meat off of spiny fish instead of swallowing them whole.