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Could the Saint Helena Bottle nose Dolphin have developed a hunting technique, unique in the world?

When flying fish shelter in the lit shallows of the Jamestown wharf landing steps it is most certainly an indicator that bottlenose Dolphins are not far behind.

Known to be effective hunters, dolphins adapt perfectly well to their environments. It would seem they have a choice diet too.

We will never know whether flying fish are the favoured food due to flavour, or the fun appeal in catching, but year on year they attract one of our favourite marine mammals within centimetres off the shore line.


Photo credit: St Helena Environmental Marine Division

Seasonally, after dark in the area of the Wharf an incredible spectacle takes form. If hunting in a pod the Bottlenose can be seen coordinating their attack and startling the flying fish that hightail their way out of the danger.

The pod circles frantically, confusing the fish and driving the schools toward the concrete wharf where the flying fish lift off, impact with the wall and hit the water, stunned.  The dolphins lunge in and swallow their prey.

Viewers stand within a hand span of this spectacle, if they dare to risk a collision.

Sometimes the flying fish lift at an angle that glides them further into the extended wharf area – escaping their predators and the water, but causing a dodge contest for awe struck onlookers.

Not known if this extraordinary behaviour has been documented on St Helena before, it has been challenging to capture any footage to this effect.

Standard photography equipment struggle in the low light, and frustrated photo enthusiasts try desperately hard to get the money shot.

Magic moments that go digitally undocumented in this tech age may well hold a purity and reality that only recollection can place value to. A ‘fish story ’ (pun intended) to tell the next person you happen to encounter .

Well timed this year with the August school holidays, this flying fish versus dolphin season has fast become a night attraction for all but particularly families with young children.

Winter in the South Atlantic may not attract the sun worshippers but it certainly rouses the marine life.

Dolphins are plentiful around the Island of the pan-tropical variety.  Hundreds can be spotted on any given day, hunting and playing, but spotting a bottlenose is somewhat less common. Watching them hunt is even rarer.





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