Do Sharks Eat Dolphins?


A huge Megalodon shark swims after a pod of striped dolphins. - stock illustration (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Even while sharks are frequently depicted as mindless predators, the truth is that they use a variety of complex tactics to get their victims. And dolphins appear to know this.

Many people assume that sharks eat dolphins. However, this isn’t true. Dolphins are really more closely related to whales than they are to sharks. This suggests they have a common ancestry and have numerous similarities in their anatomy.

There has been a lot of disinformation on the matter that just isn’t true. We’ll also be covering the social lives of dolphins and how they interact with sharks.

Do Sharks Eat Dolphins?

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The sharks are also competing with common dolphins for the same food source. The dolphins can be seen in the background. (Image Credit: Getty Images)

In certain regions, such as the east coast of the United States, sharks are the most hazardous predators a dolphin has to confront. As a result of the ongoing conflict between sharks and dolphins, the general public now believes that sharks have strong animosities against dolphins. But that is nothing more than fiction.

Similarly, not every assault on dolphins is meant to harm them. Some experts feel that this assault is a defense when dolphins visit their region. The bite marks on dolphins reveal that sharks attack from below and behind the dolphins.

Though sharks are known to feed on dolphins, some scientists have spotted them tolerating one other and coexisting in the exact location. Sometimes they are even observed to entirely disregard one other.

Also Read: 10 odd sharks in the world.

Do sharks and dolphins get along?

This myth is typically connected with a shark safety tip: “If you see dolphins, it’s safe to swim there since their presence scares away sharks.” This is just not right. In reality, sharks and dolphins are commonly seen near one other for a simple reason: they eat the same food and go where the food is.

Interaction Between Sharks And Dolphins:

We’ll start out by addressing some common misconceptions:

The first widespread misunderstanding is that sharks and dolphins don’t communicate. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, there have been numerous accounts of similar encounters in the wild. Some of these examples entail swimming together.

Every organism has its own manner of adjusting to guarantee that it can find nourishment. In the case of dolphins, their intellect has developed through time to hunt and learn from one another. Consequently, they have been known to attack considerably bigger prey simultaneously and sometimes succeed in doing so.

There have been several reported cases of dolphin hunting sharks. They do this to drive sharks away from prospective prey. In reality, even larger shark species are not protected from dolphins either. There have been several cases when groups of dolphins were witnessed attempting to hunt great white sharks too.

All these interactions between two distinct sorts of predators reveal that they are completely aware that each other has its own restriction. It’s crucial to highlight that there is no recorded example (that we know of) when dolphins go out of their way to kill sharks on purpose.

Are Sharks Afraid of Dolphins?

That sharks are dreading dolphins is not much of a mystery nowadays. The leading cause for their concern is that dolphins exhibit more traits than these marine monsters.

First, the dolphins are highly flexible and with a mix of soft skin and loose skeletal joints. It makes it simpler for the dolphins to shift their bodies fast in combat against the Sharks.

The dolphin’s tail enables swift directional attacks, and more agility than the shark’s tail does as an added benefit.

The dolphin’s snout is yours if you assault it. The bones in their noses are very thick and robust. The snouts of dolphins are like battering hammers for your body.

The nose of a dolphin may puncture a shark’s fragile underbelly, inflicting catastrophic injury. Dolphins can position themselves several yards beneath a shark and then surge upward.

Again, sharks are solitary predators, but dolphins migrate in groups known as pods. Whenever a dolphin is in difficulty, the rest of the pods rushes to its aid.

Dolphins can swiftly traverse the ocean to avoid or fight sharks by using echolocation. Sharks are secretive hunters. As a result, they have the highest chance of catching a dolphin off guard or in a vulnerable position.

If the initial effort fails, the shark may be able to get away. The escape involves rejoining the group and assaulting the shark with the rest of the pods.

The dolphin’s intellect and remarkable speed are two of its many distinguishing characteristics. They can swim rapidly faster than most shark species. That makes the sharks relax to become prey.

Is there a connection between sharks’ fear of dolphins and the orca whale?

The orca whale is the most significant component of the dolphin family. When food is sparse, this species feeds on great white sharks.

Proving from a fundamental understanding, Orca whales are shark tamers. A newborn dolphin is a prey for sharks, who would eat anything smaller than themselves.

However, assaulting a newborn dolphin might go either way. It’s because, by attacking a newborn dolphin, the shark invites retaliation from the pod of enraged dolphins.

Why Do Sharks Attack Dolphins?

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Great White Shark with the afternoon light in its open jaws. Taken at the Neptune Islands, Spencer Gulf, South Australia. (Image Credit: Getty Images)

Some scientists believe that shark attacks on dolphins may not even be predicated on the dolphin trying to eat its prey. Instead, a shark attack on a dolphin may be an act of territorial defense. This fact requires additional investigation to test these theories.

A marine scientist, Dr. Kate Sprogis, outlines why sharks could feed upon dolphins. Thus, dolphins are intelligent and dwell in pods. Meanwhile, sharks are mainly lone predators.

Think of a conflict between the shark and dolphin as a muscle fight vs. thought. Dolphins are certainly not easy prey. Dolphins tend to be more nimble and can swim quicker than many sharks due to their build.

More so, because of their great intellect, dolphins can communicate through echolocation to inform other dolphins of risks. These may include the arrival time of a shark and the potential danger level posed by the shark.

If a shark displays symptoms of violence, the dolphins in a pod may evacuate since they communicate with one another. They may as well attempt to protect themselves in such situations.

Dolphins also have self-defense methods; they frequently attack sharks by aiming for the sensitive underbelly.

Sharks, on the other hand, like to hunt in the shadows. Sharks would swarm around a pod of dolphins, keeping an eye on them. They presumably attack only if the dolphin is weak, distracted, tiny, or isolated from the group.

Basically, dolphins are not on top of the sharks’ food chain. They frequently squander a lot of time attempting to get a hold of a dolphin with their nets. For this reason, dolphins are not a top choice feed for the Sharks.

Related: Shark eyes| What do you think about shark sightings?

What Kind of Sharks Eat Dolphins?

The principal shark predators of dolphins include the bull shark, tiger shark, dusky shark, and great white shark.

To ambush dolphins from below and behind, sharks often injure them with shark bites on dolphins’ skin. Most of the time, these attacks aren’t meant to harm dolphins. Instead, it frequently entails fights over territory and food.

Sharks and dolphins often coexist peacefully in the ocean. Consequently, they may dine on the same school of fish in the same place! However, a perplexing condition may occur since they occasionally battle for food and territory.

On the west coast of Florida, the most significant predators of the bottlenose dolphins are the sharks.

When great white sharks get to a specific size, it’s possible that their food changes on an ontogenetic level. Seals and even dolphins are sometimes seen in the diet of great whites that have grown big enough to eat them.

Do Dolphins Prey on Sharks?

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Illustration of showing Cookiecutter Sharks feeding by making circular wounds on Rough-Toothed Dolphin using lips (Image Credit: Getty Images – stock illustration)

There are reported examples of killer whales attacking sharks’ livers. Possibly, great whites may have been part of the killer whale’s diet far before then. Hence, the increased prevalence of attacks is confirmation that the great white is part of the killer whales’ food.

The odds of seeing a confrontation between the great white and the killer whale are exceedingly low. Scientists follow the aftermath since it is practically challenging to observe the conflicts. Most deceased great white discovered on the water do lose their liver.

Two great white shark corpses had washed up on South African beaches without their livers a few years earlier.

In each reported attack, the killer whale performed exceptionally accurate bites on the sharks. Sharks’ livers, stomachs, and testes are the primary targets for their predation.

Oil and lipids are abundant in the livers of sharks. More so, compared to other animals, they are pretty huge.

This makes a great white shark’s liver one of the most acceptable sources of rapid energy in the water. The killer whales apparently understood this and are hunting sharks expressly for their nutrient-rich livers.

What Type of Relationship Do Sharks and Dolphins Have?

The relationship between Sharks and dolphins is intricate. Think of the dolphins and the sharks to dislike one other, but they share the same place and yet choose not to engage.

These aquatic animals do not go together and vary in so many ways.

Perhaps sharks are cold-blooded fishes. Dolphins aren’t; they are warm-blooded animals.

On the other hand, dolphins are cetaceans, implying they often have to surface to breathe air. Sharks utilize their gills to obtain oxygen from the water to not surface.

How Do Dolphins Defend Themselves?

Sharks may be apex predators, but dolphins are not less than them.

Dolphins are sociable creatures that roam in groups of hundreds. Sharks prefer to avoid attacking them since they are more bother than it is worth most of the time.

Dolphins move in significant numbers, so they have a greater chance against sharks. They are even seen to carry out a concerted assault against sharks.

As discussed in the prior parts, sharks primarily target the calves and the weak dolphins within a group as they are easy to capture. Understanding this, dolphins prefer to surround the weak and the calves among them, and they violently attack anything that comes anywhere near them.

Its primary weapons are the broad bony nose, strong flukes, and long dolphin tail. Dolphins can swim at speeds of up to 30 kph despite their massive size and weight. Imagine a dolphin weighing 200kg swimming at a speed of 25kmph, striking a shark at the end of their nose.

The impact would be greater than the force of a shotgun burst at point-blank. That’s more than enough power to rip a shark’s gills or liver.

Dolphins are clever creatures. When a group is informed of approaching danger from a shark, they will position themselves a few yards away from the shark. They will then explode upwards with full power banging their snout against the underbelly of the sharks inflicting severe internal damage for the shark.

Do Dolphins Use Sound Waves Defend Themselves?

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Dolphins swimming in the sea
(Image Credit: Getty Images)

Yes, dolphins really employ sound waves to protect themselves from fatal shark attacks. It is noteworthy to notice that dolphins can focus the sound pulse of high intensity to a limited region.

They often utilize these strategies to shock or kill smaller prey. It has been found out that a bottlenose dolphin can focus a sound pulse of 230 dB at a distance of 1m.

It is vital to remember that a sound pulse of strength 160 dB may induce discomfort, a sound pulse of 180 dB can damage the eardrum, and a pulse of 210 dB can cause tissue damage.

Though dolphins utilize these strategies to identify their prey or kill smaller prey, they are also discovered to fend off larger giant sharks without physically facing them.

So when dolphins notice a shark about to strike, they generally focus these sound pulses to a sensitive location of a shark, for instance, the organs in the snout of a shark.

It will produce intense pain, and the electrical and sensory organs on its nose stop operating. This is more than enough for the shark to turn back from the dolphin in a typical case.

Only when this doesn’t work, the dolphin utilize its strong nose to slam against the shark’s body.

Are dolphins smarter than sharks?

For quite some time, dolphins have been recognized for their intellect. While sharks aren’t inherently dumb, they aren’t as clever as dolphins.

Because of this IQ disparity, sharks might fear dolphins because dolphins can outwit them. Dolphins employ a mix of smarts and athleticism to overcome a massive shark that may be hazardous to their group.

This group has a strong sense of camaraderie and would do everything to avoid being attacked by a shark. This is especially true for the more fragile members of the pods, like young calves.

Is It True That Dolphins Save Humans From Shark Attacks?

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Dolphin and Young Woman Swimming Side by Side
(Image Credit: Getty Images)

You may have heard tales of dolphins shielding humans from catastrophic shark attacks. There have also been occasions when swimmers and surfers were reported to be shielded by dolphins from devastating shark attacks.

Though this is true, you can’t take it for granted. In most circumstances, dolphins act differently; occasionally, they may aid you. Occasionally, they may leave the events sometimes, just seeing anything occurring.

Also Read: Thresher Shark


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