Category Archives: Dolphin

Dolphin Strand Feeding Project

I came across a file of photographs in an online account I have. They were from a project of providing stills for a Marine Mammal Network video. The MMN provides support, education, and even protection for a special few pods of Dolphin.

These Dolphin have taught themselves how to hunt by pushing and stranding fish on the shoreline. There are only a hand full in the wild most, if not all, live along the Lowcountry coastline.

Click any image to view full size.

Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1

Above this Bottlenose Dolphin pushed a school of fish onto the shore. Then followed right behind grabbing them off the sand.

Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1
Dolphin Strand Feeding Project -1

The next images above show a group from the pod working together. The Dolphin actually cause waves as the work the shore.

I have published other articles in the past about this rare method. Having seen photographs Ellen posted the other day, then finding these, I though it was time to revisit for readers who have not seen this before.

Click this link for an additional informational article published locally.

Below is a gallery of several strandings, click any image for a full size.

Dolphin Hunting By Stranding Fish

This is a topic that is always of interest and recently I read a few articles that were ‘a little off’ in the details.

So I thought a another simple series with plenty of action shots was over due.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

Above is a Bottlenose Dolphin hunting by pushing and stranding fish on shore. The work together as a group, or individually. However, this is a rare hunting skill known only by a few pods of Dolphin of the Lowcountry coast. Basically the taught themselves a new way to fish.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

To start the tide and shoreline must be right and safe for a Dolphin to strand themselves on shore. The must be able to roll back into the ocean.

At first a Dolphin swims right along the shore, looking up at the beach (and here me also).

If the feel safe they next herd schools of fish by either swimming around them in circles, splashing and causing confusion, or charging right at them.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

Ultimately the fish a driven into the shallows, or on shore. Right behind them are Dolphins catching the trapped fish.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

When a 1,000 lb, 11 foot, group of Dolphin hit the shore it’s a loud tidal wave. The entire attack is no more than a few seconds and you never see it coming until the last moment. Always stand away from the shoreline when they are feeding. You will get hurt or scare away the feeding pod.

Dolphin Hunting
Dolphin Hunting

After the catch a Dolphin will always roll back into the water. They only push to land on their right side. If you ever get to see a dorsal fin of a strand feeder it’s very obvious. One side of their fin is always scraped.

There are groups trying to protect this small group and I don’t think anyone knows how many there actually are that have learned this technique. A guess is maybe 100… in the world since this is the only place it’s been documented.

This article is a little longer than most, but this is a fascinating topic and important to remember as our climate and world change.

 

 

From A Dock

From a dock on Brick Yard Creek, Beaufort South Carolina.

From A Dock
From A Dock

There are several ‘creeks’ here that eventually run into the Atlantic.

Dolphin move all through here, standing on this dock it was only a matter of time until one came close to look around.

Global #ClimateStrike , September 20, 2019 We Are Closed

For the first time in over four years nothing will be published today.

We pride ourselves on being consistent, publishing information daily, and supportive of our wildlife.

On 9/20/2019,  #ClimateStrike day, we can best support wildlife by reminding our readers why we are showing you the natural world around us.

And PLEASE… if you think this article will help we ask you click the like or share buttons to spread this message.

Below you can scroll through a small example of just what we stand to lose.

Thank you.

Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin

These images were taken in the last light of day. I am always surprised at how quickly night comes.

Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin
Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin
Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin
Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin

ACE Basin, wither in the marshes or the estuaries, always has wildlife to keep you company.

Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin
Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin

Someone once wrote the ACE Basin is ‘One of the last great places on earth’ and it became the accepted description here.

Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin
Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin

It’s obvious why.

Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin
Sundown St. Helena Bay, ACE Basin

Note; the current US administration wants to open this up for oil and gas exploration. Just sayin…

Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)

These quick shots are from the second feeding, it was over in a few seconds. (Click here to view the first) , (Click here to view a Dolphin catch)

Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)
Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)

The light was a giant glare. The only reason I knew a second Dolphin was in front of me was the sound of a blow hole.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)
Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)
Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)
Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)

There was a few fast spins to confuse any fish. All the shore in front of me was old Oyster shells, too sharp for the Dolphin or me.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)
Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)

A big splash with his tail and he was suddenly gone.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)
Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)

I did spot both later heading back down the inlet to the ocean.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)
Surprise Dolphin Feeding (2)

As I’ve said before, you never know what you might see out there.

 

 

Surprise Dolphin Feeding (1)

Out with Ellen and a friend early yesterday we decided to go along the marsh and small hammock islands before leaving.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding

Ellen charged ahead, straight into the shoe sucking pluff mud, I took a different path and almost immediately noticed the ‘tell’ of hunting Dolphin.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding

Above may not look like much but the water was circling by the hammock (A Hammock is a small reed/grass covered island). I called back to the ‘mud people’ right before the full hunt started. A Dolphin ‘blow hole’ sound was off to my right but I didn’t want to turn away.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding

The Dolphin suddenly started the spin with his large tail and the water thrown around was the usual flood.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding

There was no pushing fish to the shore, it was covered with sharp shells. These Dolphin are likely part of the larger pod that knows how to strand feed (click here for my images) further down the shore.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding

All the fishing was below the surface, I did not see if anything was caught.

Surprise Dolphin Feeding
Surprise Dolphin Feeding

Just as fast as it started the Dolphin finished and started back out towards the coastline.

This was a nice surprise, even better since out friend John had never been back here, or seen the Dolphins in action like this.

And that other ‘blow hole’ sound. As I shot the one above leaving it was suddenly louder and close. I need to work on those photographs next.

 

 

Strand Feeding, Dolphins (2)

These photographs were taken over a period of 3 days. These are from the ‘to do’ files, images that were skipped over for others taken at the same.

This web site has many new viewers that may not have seen any of the previous projects and this subject is so rare I decided to publish two new articles on this Dolphin pods habits. These are new photographs.

Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)
Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)

The first photograph here is an example of the waves they create, and how they will follow fish right to shore. It’s important the contour of the beach is on an incline, under the water. This allows them to just roll back and be in enough water to push back out. They know exactly how and where to strand since an other Dolphin taught them the tricks.

This is also the perfect spot/angle to be to photograph a stranding.

Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)
Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)

Above is a Dolphin checking the shore for danger. The animal is just under the surface and swimming by at a high speed. The only way I knew he was coming through was the surface suddenly ‘raised up’ in front of me. I just pointed the lens and pushed the shutter, not knowing what I would get. We both saw each other about the same time.

Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)
Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)

Another Dolphin here circled a school and checked all around at the same time. They will hunt with their head up out of the water.

Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)
Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)

This is the ‘whirlpool of fish’ being herded and forced in the direction they want. Sometimes this is done so fast fish are flying out of the water from the pressure.

Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)
Strand Feeding Dolphins (2)

And finally… a needle fish. The fish hit shore with this Dolphin a hair behind. Not a big one, but there is a school of others right there.

When the tide is right, and the temperature is below the boiling point we might try to get out where they might be for another few sets like these. It is not an easy trip.

Note; to view other articles select ‘Dolphin’ from the Category List on the side menus.