Stunning photographs have captured a dolphin frolicking with an octopus and tossing it into the air with its snout as it swims in the ocean.
In one image, the playful dolphins appears to have the octopus entirely in its mouth, but then flings it into the air, with water droplets flying everywhere.
The photos, taken in Mandurah, a coastal city in Western Australian, are by PHD candidate Krista Nicholson.
Ms Nicholson is part of Murdoch University’s Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU).
Ms Nicholson told the Mandurah Coastal Times she had seen dolphins take part in an ‘octopus toss’ before, but it was unusual to get pictures.
‘It’s not unheard of for dolphins to do this, but it’s not a regular occurrence’ she said.
‘We haven’t seen them (Mandurah dolphins) actually consume an octopus.
‘But there are records from other parts of the world of dolphins playing with octopuses.’
Ms Nicholson is part of the Mandurah Dolphin Research Project, which started in January and is looking at bottlenose dolphins who use the Peel-Harvey and adjacent coastal waters in Western Australia.
The project involves characterising population size and structure, habitat use and genetic connectivity between the dolphins, using the estuarine and coastal areas.
The MUCRU has been studying bottlenose dolphins in the Bunbury and Perth area for almost a decade.