How dolphins prepare the perfect cuttlefish meal

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Its technique was always the same. First, she flushed the cuttlefish out from its hiding place among the dense brown algae. Once it was exposed among open sand, she dived downwards and pinned it to the floor with her beak. With a powerful beat of her tail and a twist of her body, she jabbed downwards with a sharp thrust that killed the cuttlefish instantly. The thrust breaks the cuttlebone, a hard structure inside the cuttlefish's body; it snaps so violently that nearby divers can clearly hear the click.

Having killed her prey, the dolphin still had to prepare it. Cuttlefish ink mostly consists of a pigment called melanin that can block digestion in the stomach and the ability to detect certain chemicals. So getting rid of the ink would make the meal both tastier and easier to digest, and the dolphin did that by lifting the dead cuttlefish and repeatedly beating it with her snout. Every pummel sent clouds of ink shooting from the carcass.

When that stopped, the dolphin allowed the cuttlefish back to the sand, where she raked its back along the ocean floor. That flayed the skin off its back and released the broken cuttlebone. The dolphin effectively deboned her prey and as the cuttlebone floated away, she finally settled down to eat her well-won catch. While the trio have only directly witnessed this behaviour in one dolphin, it's extremely likely that others use it too. For a start, observers who have followed the dolphins from boats have seen clean cuttlebones floating to the surface in the wake of a pod.
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