NATURE NICHE: Dolphins play with their food

Special to the Parade

Nature Niche pic-2-28-13It was just right there at the swing bridge by Long Island Village. There were about four mothers and a few youngsters milling around and around chasing something. Then we saw a thrash, a splash and swoop, a huge sheepshead fish flew out of the water only to be snatched up by Nipper, one of the mothers. While the kiddos played with us around my boat, the mothers began to do something I had never seen before.

I have seen them carry sheepshead around for a while in their mouths to tenderize it, I suppose. But today, after Nipper gave it a few shakes, she left it at the surface. I saw it floating there, and for a second, I thought, “Oh boy, they are going to give it to me.” I waited, and sure enough another mother, Grayta, came up and took it in her mouth. Then she gave it a toss and another dolphin mother in the group, Shadow, came up and took it in her mouth.

It was wonderful to watch and film. Then again, Shadow left it floating, by now less of it left, and Nipper came back and took it in her mouth. Mama Mia. They were all sharing the sheepshead snack. We just sat in neutral watching the whole thing take place. The water was like a mirror, so we could see it all perfectly. Then the final blow to the fish came as Nipper took the last of it, and it was over for the poor fish. He had had a good life, though, for he was a big one – a big one for all the mamas to share.

It is never a dull moment out there, with this wonderful tribe of dolphins. They have taught me so much about their ways of life here in the Laguna Madre. And I love to share what they have taught me thru the sealife center in Port Isabel – a voice for our dolphins and their world. It’s beautiful. It’s our nature niche.

Join the dolphinwhisperer, Scarlet Colley by liking the Facebook page or visiting for a dolphin experience with her and faithful companion Rozzi, the dolphin dog.

Nurture with nature.

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