Did you know that stingrays are dolphin neighbors? They share share shallow seagrass habitat in Sarasota Bay where they forage for food. Dolphins are even occasionally “barbed” by the stingray’s venomous spine. These spines can also break off in the dolphins, causing injury or even death. Mote Marine Laboratory’s Strandings Investigation Program determined that 11 resident dolphins died from stingray spines between 1985 and 2020.
Sarasota’s resident dolphins have also occasionally been observed tossing stingrays in the air.
Want to learn more about dolphin-stingray interactions? Check out this poster that SDRP’s Kim Bassos-Hull presented during the 24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in August 2022.
In Australia, researchers have observed Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) and stingrays behaving in a different fashion as they hunt octopus together. Though they’re both called “bottlenose” dolphins, Tursiops aduncus behaves very differently as compared to the bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops trancatus) that live in Sarasota Bay.
This BBC Earth video captures this fascinating relationship in action. (But please don’t forget: researchers typically have special permits that allow them to follow dolphins this way. In the U.S. you need to stay at least 50 yards away while boating or swimming!)
Dolphin Biology Research Institute — DBA as the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program — is dedicated to research and conservation of dolphins and their habitat. View our profile at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County Giving Partner portal.
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