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Dolphins who catch fish with shells

Dolphins shelling illustration

Did you know that some dolphins use gigantic shells to catch fish? 

There is a group of dolphins living in Shark Bay in Australia who have worked out how to use giant snail shells as tools to catch fish – we call them the ‘shellers’.

A sheller chases a fish into an empty snail shell on the seabed to trap it. The dolphin then carries the shell in their mouth to the surface and shakes it to drain the seawater out. The clever dolphin then jiggles the fish out of the shell straight into their open mouth.

Shellers learn this fishing technique from friends who they spend lots of time with. Shelling spreads from one dolphin to another within the same generation.

One of the most recent dolphins to discover shelling is a male called Osmo. He learned to shell after a well-known sheller called Julian joined Osmo’s group.

A dolphin "shelling" in Shark Bay, Australia

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