3 min read

Dolphins Are So Smart They Learned To Hunt On Land

This unusual hunting method shows just how intelligent dolphins (and birds) are.

In a 2013 clip from Discovery, a group of dolphins make their way up a series of inches-deep channels that feed Georgia's tidal marshes. A number of egrets and gulls line the shore, waiting for the dolphins to begin their hunt.

YouTube/Discovery

YouTube/Discovery

There's a moment of quiet - and then the dolphins launch themselves toward the shore, in impressive unison, throwing a school of fish up into the air with their momentum and landing alongside them on the marshy ground.

YouTube/Discovery

YouTube/Discovery

"Operating as a tactical unit, they corral the fish towards the bank," the narrator says. "Then, in a coordinated effort, they push, full force, into the shore, creating a bow wave that flushes the fish onto the banks."

YouTube/Discovery

YouTube/Discovery

Lying on the shore, the dolphins then help themselves to the stranded fish, while the waiting birds snatch up the extras.

YouTube/Discovery

YouTube/Discovery

While the clip says this hunting behavior can only be found in Georgia's marshes, another group of dolphins was discovered hunting on land half a world away. Last year, a research team in Australia witnessed a group of dolphins engaging in the so-called strand feeding on the banks of a river. Some orcas have also used the tactic to hunt sea lions.

And it's not without its risks. The dolphins can become properly stranded if they launch themselves to hard, risking internal injuries and fatal sun exposure, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

But nothing in nature is risk-free, and, for these dolphins, the payoff seems to be worth it. You can watch the full video of the clever behavior below.