The Strand Feeding Practices of Kiawah’s Bottlenose Dolphins
Kiawah is known for its dedication to preserving the wildlife that, along with Island residents, calls Kiawah home. Thousands of birds, deer, alligators, bobcats, and more have maintained their natural habitats within the Island’s maritime forests, beaches, waterways, and inlets for hundreds of years. One of the most popular species of wildlife among residents and visitors are the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. Found along the Kiawah River, creeks, and inlets, they are frequently seen swimming, hunting, and feeding in packs of a dozen or more.
Just recently, a pack of bottlenose dolphins were found along the Kiawah River at low tide participating in a unique feeding ritual. Known as ‘strand feeding’, this practice involves a group of dolphins herding a school of fish or shrimp onto a sandbar or beach. Next, the dolphins literally launch their bodies, which could weigh up to 500 pounds, out of the water and onto the sandbar or shore to feed.
As fascinating as it is to watch, onlookers should never attempt to engage or touch the dolphins while they are strand feeding. Though some of Kiawah’s wildlife has grown accustomed to human activity, all species should be observed with caution.