Rare footage captured by GoPros tethered to US Navy dolphins reveals how these creatures hunt fish and gobble up sea snakes. In a new study, researchers tethered six bottlenose dolphins over a six-month period, providing a insight into their behaviors as they caught more than 200 fish and sea snakes in a pool of seawater off the coast of California, USA. These marine mammals have been trained by the US Navy to locate underwater mines, defend against enemy swimmers and defend part of the US nuclear stockpile.
This was part of a study in the journal Plos One, where researchers attempted to learn more about the dolphin’s communication methods while hunting.
In the study published Wednesday, the authors wrote: “The screaming continued as the dolphin grasped, handled and swallowed the prey,” the researchers write in their study published Wednesday in Plos One.
“If the fish escaped, the dolphin would continue its hunt and the clicks of the sonar were heard less often than the continuous hum and screech of the terminal.
“During captures, the lips of the dolphins flared to reveal almost all of the teeth. The throat widened outward.
“The fish continued to swim away even when they entered the dolphins’ mouths, but the dolphin seemed to suck the fish all the way to the bottom.”
The Naval Undersea Museum noted that the sea mammals were not trapped in the pool and could leave if they wanted.
They said, “They can swim if they want, and over the years a few have. But almost all remain.
The footage appeared to show the dolphins giving a “side eye”, but in reality their eyes rotate as they swim, in order to attract prey.
During the study, the dolphins hunted a range of different aquatic animals, including bass, croackers, halibut, pipefish and smelt.
The researchers noted that this is the first time that dolphins have been seen devouring sea snakes.
“They are also trained to mark the enemy swimmer with a marker so Navy personnel can apprehend them.
They noted that in 1965, “the navy sent five dolphins to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct underwater surveillance and protect military boats from enemy swimmers.
“Although at that time rumors circulated of a ‘swimmer canceling program’ whereby dolphins were trained to attack and kill an enemy swimmer, the Navy denies that such a program ever existed. .”
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