Hunting theory: How Lake Mac dolphins knock up some dinner

FISHING: Dolphins appear to be bumping the rudders of moored boats in Lake Macquarie to chase fish out into the open. Picture: Leanne Smith
FISHING: Dolphins appear to be bumping the rudders of moored boats in Lake Macquarie to chase fish out into the open. Picture: Leanne Smith

THERE is evidence the dolphins of Lake Macquarie have developed a hunting strategy that is unique to the local population.

The Lakes Mail has fielded reports of the dolphins bumping the rudders of moored vessels.

Ineke Garaty, of Coal Point, said the dolphins do this to disturb fish sheltering under the hull.

Once the fish have been spooked, the dolphins swoop.

In at least one instance, the dolphins got a little too enthusiastic in their pursuit of a meal. Diana Newman, of Balcolyn, said dolphins damaged the rudder on her boat.

The clever mammals are well known for adapting to their local environment.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife spokesman Lawrence Orel said he had not heard of the local dolphins' fishing methods.

"It's quite possible they have learned this technique locally which they pass on to other members of the pod," Mr Orel said.

"There have been reports of dolphins using sea sponges which they hold in their beak and use to sweep through sand to disturb fish and other prey."

Mr Orel said it is not uncommon for bottle-nosed dolphins to frequent coastal lakes that have access to the oceans, such as Lake Macquarie.

"We don't have a lot of information about the dolphins that use Lake Macquarie, however these would likely belong to a local pod of dolphins that would use the lake, mostly for feeding, as well as the offshore waters on a regular basis," he said.

The Lakes Mail is still receiving dolphin stories.

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