From: University of California - Santa Barbara
Published August 2, 2017 04:33 PM

A Dolphin Diet

The health of dolphin populations worldwide depends on sustained access to robust food sources.

A new report by UC Santa Barbara researchers and colleagues at UC San Diego and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looks at three different dolphin species, studying what they eat and how they divide ocean resources and space -- important information for conservation and management. The team's findings appear in the journal PLOS ONE.

"We used the principle of 'you are what you eat' to unlock some of the secrets of dolphin diet," said lead author Hillary Young, an assistant professor in UCSB's Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology (EEMB). "All of the foods that we or any animal eat are incorporated after digestion into body tissues. Most Americans, for example, chemically look like walking corn cobs because the foods we eat contain so much corn syrup."

On Palmyra, a remote coral reef atoll in the central Pacific, the researchers harmlessly collected tiny, rice-sized skin samples from three species of wild dolphins: spinner dolphins famous for their acrobatic jumps; bottlenose dolphins like those featured in the television show "Flipper"; and the aptly named melon-headed whale. The investigators examined the dolphins' chemistry to determine what foods they ate and how their diets differed. They concentrated specifically on what could be learned from investigating ratios of stable isotopes.

Continue reading at University of California - Santa Barbara

Photo: A bottlenose dolphin was the star of the television show ''Flipper''

Photo Credit: Simone Bauman, UCSD

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