The Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) is a species of dolphin living in warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, ranging from New England to Brazil to Africa. As the dolphin's name suggests, specimens are typically heavily spotted. They feed on fish, although squid and other invertebrates are part of their diets.
Fish are a mainstay of these dolphins’ diets. These fish are often small prey, such as flounder. Flying fish and eels have even been identified as prey. In addition to prowling for fish, dolphins will consume squid. Scientists have found invertebrate beaks in their stomachs.
Atlantic spotted dolphins feed at a range of depths but typically remain in the 10-meter range. Groups composed of these dolphins and other species -- including bottlenose dolphins -- have been found hunting together. They circle prey fish schools into a “ball” near the surface of the water and feed from different angles while circling. Tuna and sea birds feed with these groups at times, feeding on the thousands of prey fish that may be coalesced into one dense region. Feeding often occurs at night or near dawn.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.