Dolphin stranding is normally used to describe dolphins who have beached themselves for some reason or another, and it’s not always known if the events are intentional or not.
According to ABC News, dolphin stranding has become known as a new possible hunting pattern used by the creatures.
The report stated that “a group of dolphins living exclusively in the waters off the Carolinas and Georgia have an unusual, yet ingenious, way of capturing their prey — they force them up on shore.”
According to Scott Snider, National Geographic’s director of photography, these dolphins used their echolocation to confuse their prey, then actually chase them to the shore.
ABC News reported Snider telling Nightline:
“They’re constantly echolocating and hunting and trying to find these schools of mullet. And when they do, they’ll start to work them up.
“Once they get them right where they want them on just the right stretch of beach, there’s a vocal cue and they make a sound and they all rush at the same time.”
After they rush the fish, the dolphins beach themselves, and wait for the fish to make their way back to the shoreline, hoping to catch one in their mouths as they wait.
Is this an effective hunting method? Or is it more of a suicide mission?
While it would seem the dolphins are mastering this method of hunting, scientists worry that they more be doing more harm to themselves than good.
“If they sit up there too long they can crush internal organs, they can burn,” Snider said. “A lot of bad things can happen.”
There is of course the ongoing threat of humans getting in the way of their hunting patterns, and, as ABC News notes, other threats such as oyster shells and other trash that could slice open a dolphins’ rubbery skin.
So is dolphin stranding the new hunting habit for these creatures? If so, is it a practical one, or could it increase the numbers of animals who are killed by beaching themselves?