Dolphin Tales: The Seabrook Island Gang
We don’t often think of dolphins forming gangs, however, researchers off the coast of Charleston County, South Carolina, have been observing an extraordinary group of predatory bottlenose dolphin for years. Researchers call them the Seabrook Island Gang.
Interestingly, our local bottlenose dolphins exhibit similar behavior. During low tide, schools of mullet have nowhere to hide. Dolphin “scouts” echolocate the fish. They can sense them underwater from a football field away. The dolphins herd the mullet against the shoreline, assemble into formation, and then rush the shore, always on their right sides. At 400 pounds each, the dolphins could get stuck on the beach and die from sunburn or just from their own crushing weight out of water.
But the risks are worth it.
This astounding predatory behavior is passed on from generation to generation.
Dolphins can strategize because of their incredible brain. The cerebellum is highly developed. It is thought to be involved in the complex tasks of echolocation and moving in a three dimensional world. The cerebral cortex, used for planning and higher order thinking, is 40% more folded than our own. It’s thought that this complexity helps the dolphin hunt cooperatively. There’s far more that we don’t know about the dolphin mind than we do know. Just watch as our local bottlenose dolphin hunt in the wild. You might see them tossing the fish in the air as they play with their catch before devouring it!
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.