A few days ago we went to one of the inlets where Dolphin are known to strand feed. We have not been out to catch a feeding for a few years.
First some background; Dolphin are hunters that work in groups herding fish together for a mass strike. However, the only documented stranding hunts are along this part of the Lowcountry.
These Dolphin pods herd schools of fish pushing them right onto the shore. Then they charge together following the fish out of the water to catch the fish on land. Quickly they all roll back into the ocean.
It’s fast, explosive, and nothing short of amazing to see these huge animals out of the water hunting.
The following is one of a few we photographed, up close and personal since you never really know where they will beach. Keeping a distance is important since they are a minimum of 12 feet long, around 500 pounds (some more).
Above was the first Dolphin to began herding, maybe 25 feet off the shore. Directly in front of me.
He was joined by others. The closet one clearing his blow hole to start.
Off to my right they charged and pushed the school of fish. It’s a huge explosion of water, waves, Dolphin, and fish.
Above you can see the Dolphin together in a row, on the shore.
A just a few seconds the Dolphin will roll to their right, twist, and return to the water. The entire sequence takes under a minute.
Some days the hunts here never happen. The fish are not around. This day I spotted at least 7 off to my left down on a sand bar. At least 4 different stranding were done where I was standing, on my right which is not the best position. But really, it’s a unique opportunity to witness something like this…with a camera.
5 thoughts on “Strand Feeding Dolphin”
Wow! Those are some amazing action shots, Ted. I had no idea that dolphins worked together in this amazing way to catch fish.
Dolphin following the fish on shore is unique to the small pods in the Lowcountry. They have been studied and show it’s a method taught to the calves as the mature. I had heard some also strand feed in Mexico but not found any supporting info. Natgeo did a documentary here. We worked on one that was never released,I hear a new project is in the works. The big problem is people, and of course over zealous photogs. Have a few more shots from the other day to finish.
An incredible scene to witness.
Wow! That one word sums up my reaction. 🙂
Very intriguing – as mentioned before, this is new behavior for me. Thanks for sharing.
As more young are taught the stranding I’m sure other pods will start to do it too. The juveniles join a different group when old enough to mate.