Dubbed "conching," it is believed that the dolphins trap small fish in large conch shells with their beaks, then bring the shells to the surface and shake them, causing the water to drain out and the fish to fall into their mouths.
The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins of Shark Bay, Western Australia, are already known for an array of foraging tactics including "kerplunking," whereby they scare fish out from vegetative cover with "a percussive, bubble-forming tail slap in shallow waters over sea grass beds"; "beaching," which involves intentional stranding themselves on sandy beaches in the pursuit of fish; and "sponging," in which they use marine sponges as protective shields over their beaks when foraging for fish on the sea floor.
Even more intriguing, while those techniques are believed to spread "vertically"through the female dolphin population from mother to daughter, "conching" may be spreading "horizontally" between "friends."
Forget apes, we may be witnessing the rise of the planet of the dolphins.
Image: Murdoch University