What Type of Fish Do Dolphins Eat? Do Dolphins Eat Cooked Fish?

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Last updated on October 7th, 2023 at 02:45 pm

What Type Of Fish Do Dolphins Eat

Dolphins are known for their nature and remarkable communication skills. They exhibit intelligence. Are these adept swimmers exploring the oceans in search of food?

One most asked question is: what type of fish do dolphins eat? This article will discuss into their habits exploring the kinds of fish they eat their eating patterns when kept in captivity and more.

What Type Of Fish Do Dolphins Eat?

Dolphins are carnivorous marine animals since they mostly consume fish. The particular fish they consume, however, varies based on where they live and the kinds of prey that are available.

The following is a list of some fish that dolphins frequently consume:

Mackerel – Mackerel is a favored food source for many dolphin species. Its abundance in certain regions makes it a readily available source of nutrition.

Herring – Known for its oily and nutritious composition, herring is a popular choice for dolphins. Its high energy content is vital for their active lifestyle.

Sardines – Sardines are small in size but pack a nutritious punch. Dolphins often form massive feeding frenzies when large schools of sardines are present.

Trout – Found in both freshwater and saltwater environments, trout serve as a valuable food source for dolphins in certain regions.

Haddock – This whitefish species is frequently found in colder waters and serves as an important part of the diet for dolphins in those areas.

Flounder – Characterized by its flat body, flounder is another fish species that dolphins actively hunt and consume.

Do Dolphins Eat All Fish?

No. Dolphins tend to select fish that’re easy to catch and provide them with the nutrients for their survival.

While dolphins rely mainly on fish, as their food source they have preferences and dietary requirements.

Therefore, their diets often consist of species of mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, haddock, flounder and other similar fish species.

See Also: Do Dolphins Eat Humans? Exploring the Myth

What Type Of Fish Do Dolphins Eat In Captivity?

Dolphins in captivity have limited access to their natural habitats and prey. Their diets are carefully curated by marine biologists and animal care specialists to ensure they receive balanced nutrition.

The types of fish given to dolphins in captivity may vary depending on their specific dietary needs and availability. However, they are typically offered fish species that closely resemble their natural prey, including:

Herring – Being a staple in their diet, herring is often provided to captive dolphins due to its high nutritional value.

Capelin – Capelin, a small oily fish, is commonly used to mimic the dolphins’ natural feeding behaviors, keeping them mentally and physically stimulated.

Smelt – Smelt is often included in the diets of captive dolphins as a suitable substitute for the fish they would typically consume in the wild.

Do Dolphins Eat Cooked Fish?

In both the captivity settings and at sea, it is important to note that dolphins do not consume cooked fish. Their digestive systems are adapted to process fish as it provides them with nutrients and enzymes.

Cooked fish lacks the value and can be challenging for dolphins to digest. Hence ensuring that dolphins are provided with fish is crucial, in meeting their needs.

Do Dolphins Eat Crabs?


Although fish make up a large portion of dolphins’ meals, other animals are also included other than fish. Crabs are one of the numerous marine animals that dolphins can eat.

Dolphins find crabs to be an important food source because they offer a distinct texture and flavor than fish.

However, depending on the dolphin species and their environment, different dolphin populations may consume different amounts and frequencies of crab.

See Also: How Much Does a Full Grown Dolphin Weigh? Facts and Figures

What Type Of Fish Do Dolphins Eat In Florida?

Florida, renowned for its diverse marine ecosystem, is home to a wide variety of fish species. Dolphins in Florida typically have access to a rich selection of fish for their meals. Some of the common fish species that dolphins consume in Florida include:

Redfish – This popular sport fish is preyed upon by dolphins in Florida’s coastal waters.

Sheepshead – Known for its distinctive inward-curving teeth, sheepshead is another fish commonly consumed by dolphins in Florida.

Mullets – Mullets are schooling fish that inhabit both freshwater and saltwater environments. They serve as a significant food source for dolphins in Florida’s estuaries.

How Often Do Dolphins Eat?

The availability of prey and the metabolic demands on dolphins’ bodies influence how frequently they eat. Dolphins need a lot of energy because they live active lives and are always swimming.

Dolphins typically eat between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight each day. However, dolphins may eat more fish when there is an excess of prey, such as during a fish migration or feeding frenzy.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do Dolphins Eat Only Fish?

While dolphins primarily consume fish, their diet can also include other marine creatures like crabs.

Can Dolphins Eat Cooked Fish?

No, dolphins do not eat cooked fish. Their digestive systems are adapted for raw fish consumption.

What Types Of Fish Do Dolphins Eat In Captivity?

Dolphins in captivity are often provided with fish species like herring, capelin, and smelt to mimic their natural prey.

How Much Do Dolphins Eat In A Day?

Dolphins typically consume around 5-10% of their body weight in food each day.

What Are The Common Fish Species Consumed By Dolphins In Florida?

Dolphins in Florida feed on fish species such as redfish, sheepshead, and mullets,  among others.


Understanding dolphin feeding preferences and habits are vitally important to their conservation and welfare. Dolphins mainly feed on various fish species like mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, haddock and flounder.

Captive dolphins receive carefully chosen fish species to provide them with a balanced diet; dolphins don’t typically consume cooked seafood but may consume other marine organisms like crabs.

Florida dolphins enjoy access to an assortment of fish species. Eating frequency depends upon a number of factors including prey availability and energy needs.

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