This phenomenon occurs most frequently in the fall when the mullet are plentiful in the Kiawah River, and within two hours of low tide either way. It is a practice that has become fairly well known among the locals, and is exciting, fascinating and awe-inspiring to watch. To quote from Kiawah.com’s webpage:

“During low tide, the dolphins will herd a school fish, gradually pushing them closer and closer to the shore of the Kiawah River. As they chase the fish up the bank, they create a wave that then throws them out of the water. The dolphins then push themselves up onto the sand and eat as many fish as they can before sliding back into the water. 

Keep in mind that not all Kiawah Island dolphins know how to strand, however. It seems that this behavior is passed from mother to calf. For reasons unknown to scientists, adult dolphins are not able to learn the feeding technique once they reach a certain age. Because of this, a little less than half of the Island’s dolphin population can perform strand feeding.”

Here are a few pictures of these amazing mammals in action.