Dolphin Tales: What are the natural predators of bottlenose dolphins?
Bottlenose dolphin are cetaceans that rarely become prey thanks to their size, their intelligence, the use of echolocation and their level of socialization that gives them a significant advantage by staying in groups and intimidating their opponent. However, sharks will take the smallest opportunities to harass dolphins. The most dangerous species for our bottlenose dolphin are the tiger shark, sand shark and bull shark. It is not uncommon to see dolphin with scars from shark attacks, which means they are not easy prey and their escape techniques help them to survive.
Entanglement in fishing gear is also a major threat to nearly all marine mammals as well as pelicans and other sea birds. It is very difficult for a dolphin to see fishing line or cast net adrift in the water even though they have echolocation.
If you are out fishing, please make sure to take your rubbish and line with you. If your line or cast net does snag on an oyster bed or mangrove, be sure to retrieve as much of it as possible. Make sure all hooks and sinkers are also discarded appropriately. Do not throw fish to dolphins as feeding them entices them to hang around in areas where people are fishing, increasing the risk of them being caught in fishing line.
If you see an injured or entangled dolphin or other wildlife, please call FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.
Capt. Cathy Eagle has spent over 40 years boating in our local waters. As a professional charter captain, she specializes in dolphin and nature tours. Visit CaptainCathy.com or call 239 994-2572.