Dolphins are one of the ocean’s most interesting marine creatures. Studies have shown that they are not only intelligent but can also showcase emotions such as happiness and depression just to name a couple.
In fact, their behaviour, in general, has always been a matter of fascination for people. This is particularly true for how they interact with other marine life.
While dolphins are certainly notorious marine animals, so are sharks. It is no secret that both of these creatures reside in the ocean, however, throughout the years, people have questioned whether or not the two species get along.
Moreover, they have questioned whether or not they fight. Even though they both reside in the ocean, dolphins aren’t quite as big as some species of sharks. So, do they fight and is it possible for a dolphin to actually kill a shark?
Dolphins are one of the ocean’s cutest marine animals. However, they have been known to kill sharks. This behaviour is quite aggressive compared to a frolicking image of dolphins. When a dolphin feels threatened by a shark, it goes into self-defence mode which allows it to overpower the shark.
This is an incredible feat to imagine considering how large some shark species can get.
Furthermore, sharks are known for their looming and dangerous-looking stances.
Sharks are known for being apex predators which means they are without any natural threats from other creatures in the food chain. They are prehistoric creatures that date back thousands of years.
Throughout the years, they have been known for these vicious attacks on other marine life as well as humans. So where do dolphins come into play in concerns to sharks?
While it is true that sharks are apex predators, dolphins who feel threatened will attack a shark in an attempt to kill them. These threats could include sharks attempting to attack a young dolphin calf or a sick and weakened dolphin.
Even though this is a natural reaction from the dolphin to protect itself and its offspring or family, they aren’t considered an actual predator of a shark. They only attack sharks when there’s a threat imminent.
Dolphins are not known to seek out a shark simply to kill it. There will always be a purpose.
Why Are Sharks Afraid of Dolphins?
Sharks are known to attack or eat dolphins that are weak, sick, or young. Even though they are known for attacking dolphins who aren’t able to properly defend themselves, sharks still have a little bit of hesitation when it comes to actually preying on them.
Because of this hesitation in some instances, it is thought that sharks are actually afraid of dolphins. The truth of the matter is, they most certainly can be afraid of dolphins. But why?
At first glance, sharks are quite larger than dolphins. Some people would assume that their size alone would give them an advantage over a shark.
However, there are a few reasons why sharks fear dolphins over other marine life. Below are the top reasons that fuel their fears!
Reasons That Sharks Fear Dolphins
Dolphins Are Faster Than Sharks
One of the biggest reasons that sharks fear dolphins are related to their speed. Sharks aren’t known for being fast swimmers at least not compared to dolphins.
It has been shown that dolphins can dart through the water at much faster speeds than sharks. This advantage gives dolphins the opportunity to get away or to attack if needed.
Dolphins Have More Agility Than Sharks
Along with their speed, dolphins are much more agile and flexible than a shark. Sharks typically can only move so much within a vertical plane due to their tails.
Dolphins have a horizontal tail which allows them to maneuver easier throughout the water.
Moreover, dolphins have softer skin and joints that are a lot more flexible compared to a shark. When push comes to shove, dolphins can run a shark in circles causing the shark distress and confusion about where the dolphin is.
Dolphins Travel In Pods Of Large Groups
Sharks are lonely marine animals that swim and hunt alone. This is primarily due to them not having any immediate predators. Dolphins on the other hand travel in what are called “pods”.
These pods can be quite large and the number of dolphins in a pod relies on the species of dolphin. Some travel in as little as 12 while others might travel with over 100.
No matter what, sharks are always outnumbered by a dolphin pod. They fear these larger groups because they can easily be overrun by the dolphins and attack them from multiple sides.
Dolphins Are Smarter Than Sharks
For quite some time, dolphins have been known for their intelligence. While sharks aren’t necessarily stupid, they aren’t as smart as dolphins.
Because of this intelligence difference, sharks can fear dolphins because dolphins can outsmart them. Dolphins use a combination of their smarts and agility to overtake a large shark that might be threatening to their group.
Moreover, their loyalty to their pod is extremely high and they will do anything to avoid a shark attack. This is particularly true for the more vulnerable members of the pods like baby calves.
Dolphins Have Incredibly Strong Snouts
The snout of a dolphin is ridiculously strong. It is bony and hard which makes it the perfect vessel for attacking a shark. In fact, when they are attacking a shark, they use their snout as a means of defence.
Sharks are fearful of their snouts not only because of the extreme sharpness and power behind them but because of how a dolphin attacks them.
Dolphins use their bony snouts to jab lethal strikes at the underbelly of a shark.
Most of a shark’s body is thick, rough skin, however, its underbelly is extremely sensitive compared to the rest of its body.
Dolphins jam their snouts into this weak spot on a shark because it will typically result in an injury that will disable and kill the shark.
It is the quickest way to immobilise a shark and considering that dolphins are much more flexible than a shark, it is very easy for pods of dolphins to swim under the shark to execute this attack.
These are the main reasons that sharks are afraid of dolphins. Their fear is derived from the many ways that a dolphin can overpower them despite their size and dangerous looks.
Dolphins are fiercely loyal to their family pod units and will do anything to protect them. It is also believed that dolphins have saved some humans from shark attacks in the same manner that they protect their pods.
If this is true, it could be considered a case of being in the right place at the right time for the dolphins. Their sense of danger is heightened and they spring into the necessary action to amend the situation.
Who Would Win: A Dolphin Or A Shark?
If someone were gambling on the likelihood of a shark winning in a fight against a dolphin, they would lose more times than not. Dolphins have more power in numbers as well as more intelligence than sharks.
This isn’t to say that sharks would lose every single time. If a shark is fighting or attacking a sick dolphin, there is a slim chance that it could win the battle due to being in better health.
Considering that dolphins travel in pods, it could be unlikely that a sick dolphin would be alone. However, science hasn’t provided enough information about whether or not dolphins abandon sick members of their pod.
Nature is usually a little more unforgiving than humans in that sick creatures are often left alone because there isn’t anything that their species can do for them.
Because there’s no direct science that indicates dolphins abandoned sickly dolphins, it can be assumed that they might or that they might protect them for as long as possible.
In the case of a fight between a shark and a dolphin, this is the only time that a shark would win. If the dolphin is encumbered in any way, especially due to a health issue, a shark can and will win the battle.
Sharks might not be as smart as dolphins but they are smart enough to realise that a sick or injured dolphin isn’t able to perform as well as healthy ones.
They simply wouldn’t have the energy or strength to administer the deathly blow to the shark with their snouts.
Do Dolphins Eat Sharks?
Most dolphins will not eat sharks. Species like the bottlenose dolphin will eat plankton, krill, octopus, and other small fish.
Even though the bottlenose dolphin is the most widely known species, they aren’t the only type of dolphin that exists in the ocean.
Most people are surprised to learn that killer whales, also called orcas, are actually within the dolphin family.
Orcas are massive black and white dolphin species that are seen throughout the world in the ocean and in aquatic zoo environments.
These fascinating creatures gained their namesake of “killer whale” many, many years ago despite them not being a whale at all.
This is due to ancient sailors witnessing the creatures attack whale species which dubbed them “killer whales”. Throughout the years, studies have shown just how close orcas are to the dolphin species rather than being a whale.
Orcas are known for eating sharks. They may hunt the sharks for a food source if they are unable to find other means of food. Even with the possibility of orcas hunting sharks, sharks are still largely considered apex predators of the ocean.
Generally speaking, sharks aren’t actively sought out by other marine life as a food source. Orcas are the only exception to this observation.
Because orcas don’t rely on sharks as a large part of their diet, their stance as a “predator” for sharks isn’t really applicable.
Another species of dolphin, known as the “false killer whale” are a large dark-skinned dolphin. This particular species is known for its social behaviour, especially among humans.
It is thought that they could eat sharks like orcas, however, this hasn’t been officially confirmed one way or the other. While they are certainly an interesting variation of light-grey dolphins, they simply aren’t known, as shark hunters.
Can A Dolphin Kill A Great White Shark?
The Great White shark is internationally known as the most dangerous shark species in the ocean. This is primarily due to its enormous size and strength.
An average Great White shark can reach up to 6.4 metres (or 21 feet in length) and an impressive 1,800kg (or up to 4,000lbs).
With such a size difference between a Great White and some dolphin species, it can be hard to imagine dolphins being able to overpower a Great White.
It could be possible for a large pod of dolphins to attack the underbelly of a Great White. Even though these sharks are quite large, they still do not have the agility or speed that dolphins have.
The most likely scenario of a dolphin killing a Great White shark would be for an orca to do the job. Orcas are much larger than other dolphins giving them a better advantage.
Orcas, on average, can be up to 9.7 metres (or 32ft) in length and weigh up to 5,443kg (or 6 tons). This makes them incredibly heavier than a Great White as well as longer in length.
Due to the size of an Orca, they can easily overpower a Great White if needed. If an Orca can get a Great White on its back by spinning it around, the Great White virtually becomes defensiveness.
Moreover, recently documentation has shown that orcas are only eating certain parts of the shark instead of the entire shark as a whole. This mostly includes their livers.
Even though orcas are much more massive than other species of dolphins, they can still move quicker than a shark. Because of their ability to attack and kill Great White sharks, orcas are considered apex predators.
Typically, sharks are considered apex predator especially because they have survived since prehistoric times. Orcas are breaking this barrier down with increased Great White shark attacks.
Sharks can no longer be considered a true apex predators anymore since orcas are known to attack them. Moreover, the fear of dolphins from sharks becomes more tailored towards orcas and large pods of dolphins.
Their overall behaviour is certainly interesting to examine and this is particularly true when it comes to their relationship with sharks.
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