We studied the fine-scale behaviour of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus around gillnets in North Carolina, USA, during May and June 2002. We made observations from an overhead digital video camera, suspended from a helium-filled aerostat, tethered 70 m above a fishing vessel. We positioned the camera above a gillnet set for Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus maculatus. We observed frequent encounters (n = 36) and interactions (n = 27) between dolphins and the net, but no dolphins became entangled. Most dolphins diverted their course around the net, but on nine occasions we observed dolphins engaging in depredation. We conclude that interactions between dolphins and these gillnets are common, but that entanglement is rare.