What do dolphins eat?

Dolphins are carnivorous marine mammals that primarily feed on a variety of fish, squid, shrimp, and other small sea creatures. Their diet varies depending on the species of dolphin and their habitat. Here are some key points about what dolphins eat:


  • Most dolphin species feed on various types of fish such as herring, cod, mackerel, anchovies, and salmon123.
  • Some dolphins like bottlenose dolphins eat their local, favored fish species like mullet, catfish, and tropical fish1.

Squid and Crustaceans

  • Many dolphins consume squid and shrimp as part of their diet1234.
  • Some species like rough-toothed dolphins mainly eat squid since they live in deep ocean waters1.
  • Dolphins also eat crustaceans like crabs and krill13.

Other Prey

  • Some dolphins eat jellyfish, octopus, and small marine animals found near kelp beds and the seabed14.
  • Large dolphin species like orcas (killer whales) prey on seals, sea lions, other dolphins, and even whales14.

Hunting Techniques

  • Dolphins use various cooperative hunting techniques like herding, corralling, and stunning prey with their tails245.
  • They locate prey using echolocation and excellent hearing abilities34.
Dolphins are opportunistic feeders and their diet is flexible based on the available food sources in their habitat4. They consume enough food, around 4-6% of their body weight daily, to meet their high energy needs5.
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