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Dolphin spotted ‘playing with his food’ in Florida video. Why they do it

A group of visitors to Florida’s southwest coast hoped to see dolphins when they boarded an Adventures in Paradise cruise boat.

What they didn’t know is they were in for a show.

As part of the afternoon dolphin and wildlife cruise on Feb. 12, guests kept their eyes on the water line for an emerging fin or tail fluke off the coast of Fort Myers.

Then they saw a fish fly through the air — then again.

A common bottlenose dolphin swam along the surface of the water, grabbing the fish in its mouth and flipping it up toward the sky, a video shared by the tour company on Facebook showed.

The tour group said the fish was a crevalle jack, roughly 8 pounds, identifiable by its bright yellow fins.

“Playing with his food! Silly dolphin,” one person commented on the post.

“Like a cat with a mouse,” another said.

They aren’t entirely wrong.

“Did you know dolphins throw fish around for different reasons?!” the tour group said. “It could be to size up or stun their prey, practice their hunting skills (especially juveniles), or it is just purely to have some fun!”

The group also shared photos of the playful activity taken by one of the guests on the boat, giving a closer look at the athletic form needed for fish tossing.

To biologists, the technique is called “fish-kicking” or “fish whacking,” University of Florida biologist Stefanie Gazda, who studies dolphins in Cedar Key, Florida, told National Geographic.

Gazda said the behavior is most likely taught by parents to their young in specific dolphin groups, but there have been cases of dolphins learning to whack their meals as a hunting strategy for the first time, the outlet reported.

Fort Myers is about 130 miles south of Tampa.

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