Do dolphins kill sharks?

Do dolphins kill sharks? Are sharks afraid of dolphins? Yes, they both kill sharks and are afraid of them. Dolphins live in pods and are very intelligent, which are some of the reasons sharks are so afraid of dolphins. Here’s a more elaborate answer.

They’re both serious creatures in the ocean, that’s for sure!

The ocean can be dangerous for even apex predators like sharks. Not all species live in harmony, especially if they have to share the same hunting grounds for survival.

One example of this is the interaction between sharks and dolphins. Dolphins like porpoising, which is jumping out of water. It scares away sharks because it looks like they’re about to attack them.

Do dolphins kill sharks?

Sharks are afraid of dolphins because they are porpoising. Sharks perceive this as an attacking action, and they are scared especially when there are multiple dolphins porpoising. Dolphins also kill sharks as they are a food source for them.

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Dolphins Are Too Tricky:

Dolphins use sonar to trick sharks into thinking that they’re something else. Which then makes them go away without any harm done in most cases.

The other option is that dolphins will swim in circles around them when attacked by a shark while doing “porpoising.” When they do this, there are more dolphins than there. It scares the shark away.

Porpoising is extremely effective in scaring sharks. The only downside to this technique is that dolphins have to do circles around sharks until they feel safe.

Dolphins have been known to save humans from sharks as well. In a documented case, dolphins came to save humans from a shark by surrounding the humans and making strange noises.

Dolphins don’t just attack sharks for defense, either. They like to hunt sharks for food, depending on the health condition of the shark. They do this by making circles around the shark until it’s dizzy and then hitting it with their tails, which causes the shark to die of internal bleeding.

Ability to Jump/LeapLimitedYes
Average Life Span20-30 years20-40 years
Body TemperatureCold-bloodedWarm-blooded
Breathing MethodGillsLungs
Communication SkillsLimitedAdvanced
Migration PatternsSome species migrateSome species migrate
Parental CareMinimalHigh
Predatory BehaviorPredatoryNon-predatory
Sense of HearingPoorExcellent
Sense of SightGoodExcellent
Skin TextureRoughSmooth
Social StructureSolitary/SchoolingSocial
Swim SpeedFastFast
Tool UseNoYes
Type of AnimalFishMammal
Types of TeethSharp, serratedConical, uniform

There’s More To It Than Predation:

Some sharks are scared of dolphins because they have sharper teeth. While some species of sharks do have teeth that can cut through dolphin skin, others have no hope against their strong jaws.

Dolphins also use echolocation to find their prey, making them harder to detect than other creatures in the water. 

Sharks can only get away if they swim fast or stay very still. All in all, most sharks are afraid of dolphins. Dolphins also attack with their pod. If they’re outnumbered, dolphins will work with their pod to attack the shark.

While the dolphin might be able to injure a shark on its own, the whole pod can inflict serious damage. For this reason, dolphins will work together to ensure that the shark is killed. 

Dolphins can kill sharks without getting hurt themselves in most cases because of their intelligence and teamwork capabilities. They know how to work with one another and use different attack methods. This includes but is not limited to:

  • porpoising
  • ramming with their nose
  • and even their tails. 

Depending on the strength of the shark, dolphins can kill them pretty easily. They do this by using teamwork and sharp teeth that can cut through the shark’s skin.

Interaction Between The Two Animals:

When a shark attacks a dolphin, the dolphins go crazy to survive. The dolphin does something called “buzzing.” When they buzz, it means that they poke their head out of the water.

And then slam it back into the water fast (which makes a loud noise). This scares the shark unless they’re provoked. If the sharks don’t go away, the dolphins swim in a circle around them

The dolphin swims in a circle around the shark while doing “porpoising” when they jump out of the water. When they do this with a pod, sharks flee the area.

When dolphins attack sharks, they go into a state called tonic immobility. This is when the shark freezes all its efforts and won’t do anything. Dolphins tend to take advantage of this situation to injure the shark. 

This is how sharks and dolphins interact with one another. The dolphin helps keep the shark population down in some areas. Because when a shark gets scared, it goes into tonic immobility.

Sharks generally avoid dolphins, although there are some cases where sharks don’t fear dolphins. At least one case has been reported where dolphin carcasses were found with shark bites. 

This indeed suggests that sharks might eat dolphins. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most sharks are predators. Some are scavengers, with whale carcasses being the prime target.

The dolphins vulnerable to attack by sharks are not their normal choice of food source. So it’s safe to say the shark is not their normal predator. Even in these cases, few reports of dolphins actively seeking out sharks to kill them.

Here are some types of sharks.

FeatureBull SharkHammerhead SharkBlacktip SharkGreat White SharkTiger Shark
Average Bite Force (lb)18,000UnknownUnknown18,000-19,00018,000
Average Life Span20-30 years20-30 years12-15 years20-30 years20-30 years
Body ColorGrayGrayGray/BrownWhite/GrayGray
Body Size6.6-11.5 ft13-15 ft4.9-7.2 ft14.8-19.7 ft11.5-14.8 ft
Predatory BehaviorPredatoryPredatoryPredatoryPredatoryPredatory
Social StructureSolitarySchoolingSchoolingSolitarySolitary
Swim Speed (mph)40Unknown25-3515-2015-20
This Is How Dolphins Scare Sharks1

They Could Be Driven By Fear:

In most cases, the dolphin’s attacks on sharks are driven by fear and self-defense. The behavior may start with individual dolphins chasing the sharks away from resting places in coral reefs. But when they see that it works (or when they get hungry), the rest of the pos join in until all the sharks are driven away. 

In some cases, the dolphins may use this method of driving off predators to get some food. If they see that this technique works for driving sharks away, it may be applied to other predators (such as killer whales).

Since orcas are not a normal prey item for dolphins, using these techniques against them may indicate self-defense rather than a hunt.

Sharks like the great white often try to eat dolphins. Luckily for the dolphins, they can ‘trick” the shark into not eating them by using their sonar. When the dolphin sends out sonar, the shark hears it and gets confused.

This starts as just simple buzzing, which scares away some sharks. If that doesn’t work, the dolphins proceed to porpoising, where they usually succeed in driving the sharks away.

Sharks will sometimes bite off dolphin carcasses when they see that getting food is possible. Most of the time, dolphins are left alone by sharks. Scientists have tested this idea in an experiment, using a rubber dolphin to see how sharks would respond to it. It involved three kinds of control tests:

  1. A model dolphin with only the head exposed but without any food inside
  2. An empty model dolphin
  3. A model dolphin without food inside

It was observed that sharks responded far more toward the “food-filled” rubber dolphin than they did to the other two models. When they swam near the real-looking model dolphin with food, the sharks’ muscles tensed up and lowered their heads.

Perhaps these animals are reacting this way because it’s natural for sharks to be weary of dolphins. Dolphins hunt sharks in nature, so it’s logical to expect sharks to react this way.

Did you know there are several types of dolphins, with these being the most common?

  • Atlantic Bottlenose
  • Spinner
  • Pacific White-Sided
  • Pilot Whale

They Do Not Harm On Purpose:

Dolphins are also effective against crocodiles because if they’re in fresh water, they can confuse crocodiles by using their echolocation. When this confusion occurs, they can kill crocodiles by ramming. 

When dolphins play with other animals, they don’t just play around with them. They help them by nursing their injured or sick babies. In one case, a dolphin nursed a baby shark back to health because a whale had injured the mother.

Dolphins are also very intelligent creatures known to help humans by saving them from obstacles in the water. Saving them from sharks, helping sick swimmers back up to shore. They even rescue people out of the water.

Dolphins are also one of the smartest animals in the world. In captivity, they’ve been able to understand how to use tools. They’re also great at remembering things they’ve seen before and using that information to their advantage.

They’re also able to save humans by pushing their faces out of water when they’re drowning. This is something that’s been documented several times over.

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