Saturday, 11 September 2010

Dolphin Innovators Hunt Fish by Collecting Conch Shells - BBC

photo credit Kathrin Bacher

First of all, that picture is adorable.

The clever dolphins of Shark Bay, Australia have been collecting seashells. Why? They've figured out their fishy prey will hide in the empty shells, so the dolphins bring them to the surface where they can easily be flushed out and eaten.

""Shark Bay dolphins are known as clever inventors, showing a remarkable range of foraging tactics, which are unprecedented in other cetacean populations," says biologist Dr Michael Kr├╝tzen of the University of Zurich, Switzerland."

The dolphins of this area are also known for other inventive foraging techniques, including "sponging" - where a dolphin will grab a piece of sea sponge and use it as a "glove" over their snouts to protect themselves from stinging fish while searching the sand for food.

Bringing shells to the surface appears to be a relatively new behaviour on the dolphin's part. Sponging has been culturally passed down from generation to generation for some time, but there is no evidence of younger dolphins being taught the conch technique...yet!

Full article here (BBC)

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