Dolphin Behaviours

Wild Dolphin Common Behaviours

The guide below explains just a few of the dolphins’ natural behaviours:

Puffer fish play

Known for their playful nature, dolphins – especially young calves – often catch puffer fish. As they puff up, they provide a perfect floating ball for them to toss about and play with. Not only is this fun for the younger dolphins, but it also allows them to sharpen their own hunting skills. 

Inverted hunting

Dolphins have limited flexibility in their neck, and are unable to see above them – their eyes are oriented so that they can only look forwards, sideways and down. When a fish is swimming above them, the dolphin simply turns upside down to be able to see the fish. Inverted hunting enables dolphins to catch prey that is sitting very close to the surface of the water. 


Dolphins can see equally well both above and below water, so by vertically lifting their heads above the surface they can see what is going on outside of the water. This behaviour is thought to help the dolphins locate prey, threats or possibly even landmarks. 


Unlike humans, dolphins are equipped with a voluntary respiratory system. Each breath they take is a conscious decision meaning that they must keep part of the brain alert to trigger each breath, and cannot go to sleep like humans. Instead, they shut one half of their brain down at a time, allowing it to rest whilst the other half stays awake at a low level of alertness to watch for predators, obstacles and other animals, and most importantly, to bring the dolphin to the surface to breathe. When dolphins are in this state, they look like they are having a catnap, just gently lolling below the surface.


On various occasions over the past several years, wild dolphins have been observed giving gifts to our Dolphin Care team at the Tangalooma Island Resort nightly dolphin feeding. The gifts have included eel, tuna, squid, octopus and an assortment of many other types of different fin fish.

Wild Dolphin Viewing & Wild Dolphin Feeding Access

Please note that casual visitors to Moreton Island are not allowed access to the resort premises for the nightly dolphin viewing / feeding experience. All guests that are authorised to stay overnight at properties within the grounds of the resort have general admission access to the dolphin viewing areas each evening. Only guests who have booked official day trips and select overnight stays with Tangalooma Island Resort will be able to participate in the nightly dolphin feeding program, but only if it was included in your original package. Consult your confirmation paperwork to confirm your access.

Wild Dolphin Feeding / Viewing is dependent on dolphin attendance, weather conditions & tides, therefore arrival cannot always be guaranteed; however over the last 3 decades of the program, we have experienced a 99% attendance rate. See Dolphin Feeding FAQs for further information about the program.

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