Some of us live to eat, while others eat to live, but one thing’s for sure, that one of the keys to staying healthy is eating right – something that many of us are constantly trying to balance. We need to eat right, in adequate proportions and at frequent intervals to remain in tip top condition.
And the same goes for dolphins. A balanced diet ranks right up there in the list of things our marine mammal specialists do every day.
In this week’s post, they shared with us what to look out for in a dolphin’s diet. To strike a balance diet for them, we have to look at the dolphin’s length and girth and then feed them the right amount of calories in food. This can range from 4% to 6% of their body weight. Whereas, humans in general, consume less than 2%* of their weight in food. The dolphins are helped in this respect by having not one, but three stomachs!
After analysing the caloric content of their food in the lab, each dolphin will be served an ideal and sufficient amount of food, to keep them at their best – with no excessive weight gain or loss.
But it doesn’t end there. Dolphins are known as selective eaters and their diet needs to be varied. And there’s a good reason for that. Recent behavioural research has indicated that dolphins can actually detect three tastes: sour, bitter and salty. They may even taste sweetness, though science has yet to come to a conclusion on that.
Such variation is also essential as a single fish species may not contain all the necessary nutrients. For example, squid is an excellent source of water and keep the dolphins hydrated while herring is a good source of vitamin D.
Thus, their diet usually comprises a mix of three different fish types that gives the best balance of nutrients and vitamins. On top of that, the dolphins’ diet is further supplemented with specially-formulated vitamins.
And just like us, variety is the spice of life; the menu doesn’t stay the same. By constantly monitoring the growth and health of the dolphins – keeping in mind other factors like climate, water temperature, level of activity, age, size and season – our marine mammal specialists will adjust the dolphins’ diet to make sure each meal time remain an exciting and fulfilling session. Just like how we look forward to meal times each day.