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Can You Eat Dolphin and What Does It Taste Like?

Many cultures view dolphins as beautiful creatures that symbolize freedom, with many going sightseeing to spot dolphins or finding them in a local aquarium. However, dolphins have a place on the menu of some cultures.

a pod of dolphins jumping out of the water

If you’ve been curious about whether dolphin meat is edible or not, we’re here to help. Here are some tips on consuming dolphins, such as edibility and risks, as well as cultural significance.

Do People Eat Dolphin?

It’s worth noting that “dolphin” can refer to both dolphins and dolphinfish, such as Mahi Mahi. Many places will refer to dolphinfish as simply dolphin for style or to draw in people that may find the dish exotic or exciting, picturing a dolphin leaping from the water.

2 dolphins jumping side by side

Dolphin is a sea mammal commonly eaten today, though it isn’t popular worldwide. Areas of Alaska still consume dolphins frequently, as do places like the Faroe Islands.

Island cultures generally may have dolphin meat as a cultural item, making it popular in Japan, Peru, Madagascar, and Taiwan. As a whole, most other nations tend to avoid it.

Is Dolphin Edible?

Dolphin meat is edible, though some do not consider it safe to eat. Many nations also have laws against catching or eating dolphins, effectively making it “inedible” in these areas.

2 dolphins swimming side by side

Some types of dolphins are endangered or are poached with methods dangerous to the environment, and eating these dolphins is something you should avoid at all costs.

Past this, dolphins have a place in traditional diets. Peru, for example, refers to dolphins as “chancho marino,” which translates to sea pork.

Many cultures began eating dolphins as a cheap source of protein for survival, making it a cultural staple. It’s a cherished part of diets in many nations.

What Does it Taste Like?

Dolphin meat is a deep, dark red that borders on black. Many equate the taste to being similar to beef liver, also having a somewhat similar appearance in color and texture. 

3 dolphins jumping out of the water

Dolphin has a robust, somewhat iron-heavy flavor that can stand out in most dishes. You can eat dolphin by itself for its intense flavor or in more robust dishes to take advantage of the meaty texture. Some cultures will grill it for a smokier, tougher taste and mouthfeel.

Is Dolphin Safe to Eat?

Dolphins are safe to eat, but one has to eat in moderation. Dolphin meat is much higher in mercury than the average sea creature, posing a significant health danger to humans if one overindulges.

adult and baby dolphin swimming

Eating a large portion of dolphin meat can drastically raise the amount of mercury in your body. It can even lead to mercury poisoning if eaten too often or in large quantities.

Because of this, dolphins also generally aren’t considered safe to eat. It isn’t exceptionally high in oils or vitamins compared to many other ocean animals that one could eat, though it has a high iron content.

Most avoid this dish due to the high mercury, generally only eating it as a cultural norm or an exotic, novel experience.

Can You Eat Dolphin Raw?

Dolphin can be eaten raw and is often found in Japanese cuisine in this form. Japanese sushi will often feature the dish in sashimi or nigiri-style preparation, letting the fish shine on its own, or use it in many rolls or other raw preparations.

adult and baby dolphin swimming

However, most people will cook dolphins due to their tougher texture. It commonly appears as a meat substitute and can replace other proteins in a culinary sense. Cooking can also help to lower some of the iron-heavy taste of the dish.

Final Thoughts

Dolphins have a home on many dinner tables, especially culturally. Many traditions call for the eating of dolphins, with several nations having a special preparation.

That said, its high mercury content and cultural relevance to many other nations make it a unique item to find on most menus or tables around the world, especially away from coasts.

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