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Energetic Atlantic Dolphins are Fussy Eaters

30th June 2010
Energetic Atlantic Dolphins are Fussy Eaters

 

Atlantic Dolphins choose to eat high-energy fish to suit their energetic lifestyles, scientists have found.
A study of dolphins off the French coast shows that dolphins shy away from less calorie-dense prey in favour of high-energy food. This dispels a myth that dophins are opportunistic feeders that take any food that comes their way.
The study was carried out by Dr Jerome Spitz and other scientist at the University of La Rochelle in France, who looked at the eating habits of short-beaked common dolphins ( Delphinus delphis ).
This species are the most common type of dolphin in nearby Atlantic waters. The team studied the stomach contents of dolphins caught accidentally in tuna drift nets to see what they ate. They then compared what they found in the dolphins' stomachs with what surveys of trawling fish catches indicated as plentiful in the same waters.
What they found was that dolphins actively select their prey based on its energy density, preferring deep-sea species like lanternfish instead of fish that have lower energy densities.
The dolphins studied turned their noses up at fish with under 5kJ of energy per gram, and sought out rarer breeds of fish that had a higher energy rate.
Two favourites were less common species of  lantern fish, the Kroyer's lanternfish  and the Glacier lanternfish  which have 7.9kJ and 5.9kJ per gram respectively.

Atlantic Dolphins choose to eat high-energy fish to suit their energetic lifestyles, scientists have found.

A study of dolphins off the French coast shows that dolphins shy away from less calorie-dense prey in favour of high-energy food. This dispels a myth that dophins are opportunistic feeders that take any food that comes their way. 


The study was carried out by Dr Jerome Spitz and other scientist at the University of La Rochelle in France, who looked at the eating habits of short-beaked common dolphins.

This species are the most common type of dolphin in nearby Atlantic waters. The team studied the stomach contents of dolphins caught accidentally in tuna drift nets to see what they ate. They then compared what they found in the dolphins' stomachs with what surveys of trawling fish catches indicated as plentiful in the same waters.


What they found was that dolphins actively select their prey based on its energy density, preferring deep-sea species like lanternfish instead of fish that have lower energy densities.
The dolphins studied turned their noses up at fish with under 5kJ of energy per gram, and sought out rarer breeds of fish that had a higher energy rate.


Two favourites were less common species of  lantern fish, the Kroyer's lanternfish  and the Glacier lanternfish  which have 7.9kJ and 5.9kJ per gram respectively. Other less energetic predators, like sharks, are less fussy and take anything that's going.

 

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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