Tag Archives: Strand Feeding

Dolphin Strand Feeding

Conditions shaped up nicely on Wednesday to head to Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island to observe Dolphins feeding. Timing was good, with low tide about 10:30am. Strand feeding, the method peculiar to this area of South Carolina’s coast where Dolphin drive fish to the shore, tends to happen two hours either side of the low tide.

For a couple of hours the light was good and I was pleased to get this sequence, which was much less vigorous than previous times I’ve witnessed this behavior. The Dolphin seemed to be lolling around in the shallow water, not zooming full speed ahead.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

Other times I’ve seen this as a cooperative effort but this Dolphin was on her own.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

My position and the shape of the sand bank cut off some of the action.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

I got a little closer before the Dolphin flipped around and caught a fish.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

Once again I was amazed the power of these animals which is evident in the splash of water and waves that rushed to shore.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

It turns out that it was a good thing I went Wednesday. As of today all of the area beaches are closed due to Covid-19 concerns.

Dolphins Strand Feeding, Junior Watching

This trio of Dolphins charged the beach head on instead of from the side as I’ve usually seen.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

The Dolphin on the left was hanging on tight to his catch.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

As they continued to chase the fish herded to the water’s edge the Dolphin in the middle got a fish.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

I didn’t notice it at the time, but a juvenile Dolphin was watching from a safe distance. I wonder if the Dolphin on the left was holding this catch to feed the youngster or if he/she was just too busy getting back in the water.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

Later that morning I did see the mother and juvenile working the shore in what looked like teaching of the water swirling methods.

11/06/2018

Dolphins Strand Feeding: Big Catch

The fish were easy to see as they flew through the air, tossed about by the powerful water surges created by the Dolphins.

Dolphins Strand Feeding, Fish in the Air
Dolphins Strand Feeding, Fish in the Air

Most of the fish manage to flop back into the water but this one was about to be lunch.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

The fish appears to be dead or knocked out.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

But a moment later he leapt into the air…

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

and ended up in a Dolphin’s mouth.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

The images in a slideshow, if you prefer; click an image to get started:

Dolphins Strand Feeding: Success

After the fishless stranding of my last post, I was fortunate to witness another strand feeding with the fish jumping wildly.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

Three Dolphins had driven the fish to shore and the fish did their best not to become lunch.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

The next photo is heavily cropped, but I wanted to show a closeup of the Dolphin – fish encounter. I’m not certain the Dolphin got this one, but it seems likely.

Dolphin with Fish

The frenzy only lasts a few seconds, then the Dolphins roll/flop back into the water, continuing to splash with their tails.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

Dolphins Strand Feeding

A number of Dolphin pods in South Carolina catch fish by a process known as strand feeding. Singly or in groups, they drive fish to the shore, aka strand, usually at a steep bank, then nab the fish.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

To stay at a distance that is safe for the Dolphins doesn’t always result in the best images, but it sure is interesting to watch. I didn’t see any fish during this stranding.

Dolphins Strand Feeding
Dolphins Strand Feeding

One Got Away

I did not see the Needlefish when I was taking these shots. The glare from the afternoon sun and the splash from the strand feeding Dolphin were what I saw in the viewfinder while I was hoping the Dolphin’s head would emerge through the water.

Fish Got Away
Fish Got Away

The fish’s jumping skills outran the Dolphin’s efforts to corner him near shore.

Fish Got Away
Fish Got Away

In a matter of seconds the the Dolphin turned back into the deeper water.

Dolphin Returning to Water
Dolphin Returning to Water

Dolphins Moving Water

The bank of the river is very steep here which not only helps the Dolphin corral fish to feed on but it creates a funnel wave up the shore. I could hear the water coming and didn’t want to miss the Dolphin, but I think the funnel may have been a more interesting photograph. I’ll need to see this a few more times to get placed properly for the best shot.

Dolphin Feeding
Dolphin Feeding

He’s in there somewhere. Amazingly fast and agile, Dolphins create a swirl in the water as they zoom by.

Dolphin Feeding
Dolphin Feeding

The splash was quite dramatic as he made a turn, sending an incredible amount of water airborne.

Dolphin Feeding
Dolphin Feeding

There is at least 1000 feet of river shoreline where the Dolphins were feeding this day, and with their speed it was tough to choose a place to stand.

Dolphin Feeding
Dolphin Feeding