Dolphins Use Shells to Catch their Food
By Brayden Yin
If you’re a dolphin, how you catch food depends on who your friends are.
Dolphins usually learn hunting from their mothers. However, Indo-Pacific dolphins are different. The dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia use a strategy of hunting called “shelling.”
Previous studies already showed that dolphins can learn from their peers, and The Shark Bay dolphins are one example of it. The way that the dolphins employ the shell is by trapping their desired target inside a large shell, bringing it up to the surface, and shaking the food into its mouth. “It’s pretty mind-blowing,” said Sonja Wild of the University of Konstanz in Germany. The shelling has been shown to be extremely rare. Out of 5,278 dolphin sightings, the shelling was only seen 42 times, exhibited by 19 dolphins. 57% of the dolphins who were shellers learned it from a peer, and 43% learned it themselves. Wild compared the learning of shelling to the spread of viruses. They learn things by staying near friends, and pick up new bits of information.
The habitat of the dolphins is also important to the shellers. The snail shells used by the dolphins are only found in one area: Shark Bay, Australia.
Many people know that dolphins are smart, but this discovery shows that dolphins are much smarter than people think they are.