Dolphin Strand Feeding Search
Strand feeding occurs around the low tide when water is low and baitfish schools are thick. Groups will charge shallow pluff mud flats forcing fish and themselves onto the mud, during which fish are consumed. Local female groups show evidence of worn-down teeth on the right side of their mouths. They work carefully together to chorale these fish into tight schools (we call bait balls) and drive them onto the soft muddy shoreline. These conical cone shaped teeth are meant for grabbing and are very effective at catching prey. Historically, the dolphins only breach on their right side. Stranding on their left side would lead to damage to internal organs (specifically the liver). When famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau witnessed this behavior back in the 1950s, he knew Hilton Head Island was a special place. He even decided to live on nearby Skull Creek for a short period of time. If Dolphin Strand Feeding techniques have been passed down for generations (from dolphin to dolphin), how long have they been feeding this way? What makes this area so unique for dolphins and visitors alike? How can society preserve them and inspire the next generations to do the same?
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