Sharks are notorious for their scary-looking appearance. With large teeth, a strong powerful body, and a feisty attitude – it’s no wonder that these animals are feared by many.
With around 130 different shark species, they can be found worldwide from tropical coral reefs to the deep sea and even in the icy Antarctic waters.
But despite the shark’s feared persona, they may be intimidated by a much smaller and more social ocean dweller.
In this post, we’re going to answer a question that many of our readers are eager to learn the answer to. Are sharks scared of dolphins?
Yes, sharks are most certainly a little scared and intimidated when swimming around dolphins, and they have a good right to be. Many dolphins swim in pods and are some of the top ocean predators. Some species such of dolphin as Orca will even hunt Great White sharks when food is scarce.
Are Sharks Really Scared Of Dolphins?
Dolphins are often seen as happy, peaceful animals that are friendly in nature. However, despite their seemingly smiley appearance, they are much more deadly in the water than given credit for.
Whilst sharks and dolphins rarely cross paths in the ocean, it is true that many sharks will simply avoid dolphins altogether when encountered.
This is largely because dolphins are some of the only animals that can cause serious harm to sharks.
Pods of dolphins have been known to ram sharks with their hard snout, and because they are so intelligent they know exactly where to strike the shark to cause serious harm.
They target the soft underbelly of sharks which can cause internal bleeding or lead to infection which can kill the shark.
Can A Dolphin Kill A Shark?
Sharks are solitary hunters that prefer to roam the oceans solo in search of food. On the other hand, dolphins are often seen traveling in pods sometimes hundreds strong.
When it comes to sharks vs dolphins, it’s a brain vs brawn scenario. With dolphins being much more intelligent than sharks and also outnumbering them multiple times over.
If a dolphin ever finds itself under attack by a shark, a couple of clicks and communication whistles are all they need to call in backup.
Once the cavalry arrives the shark has no hope. A dolphin’s snout is their strongest weapon and coupled with their supreme intelligence they are a powerful force in the ocean.
Dolphins work together to target the gills of sharks as well as their underbellies, striking them where they know they are vulnerable.
This behavior has led sharks to be wary around dolphins, and it’s part of the reason that dolphins are feared by so many animals in the ocean.
There is no doubt that a dolphin can kill a shark, and they often do. Some species of dolphin such as the Orca will actively hunt even the largest sharks when food is scarce.
Whilst a lone dolphin would have a hard time taking on a shark, an Orca would be more than capable of tackling these feared predators in a one-on-one.
Orca are known to target great white sharks are rip them apart, taking out their livers as they are some of the most nutrient-rich food sources in the ocean.
Killer whales use their incredibly sharp teeth to rip out the shark’s liver and leave the remaining, making quick work of some of the ocean’s most feared predators.
Do Dolphins Protect Humans From Sharks?
Yes, dolphins have been known to protect humans from sharks. A human in the water is no match for a shark, but dolphins on the other hand are more than capable of scaring away an oncoming shark.
In New Zealand, 2004, a pod of dolphins saved a group of swimmers from an oncoming Great White shark off the coast of NZ.
Rob Howes took his 15-year-old daughter and two of her friends swimming near the town of Whangarei.
Mr. Howes told newspapers that the dolphins “started to herd us up, they pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us.”
He explained that when he had attempted to break away from the circle, they herded him back in, and then he saw what was described as a three-meter Great White shark.
Rob said, “it was only about two meters away from me, the water was crystal clear and it was as clear as the nose on my face.”
At that point, he quickly realized that the dolphins “had corraled us up to protect us.”
But that’s not the only case of dolphins protecting humans against a shark. In 2014, Adam Walker was on a 16-mile swim in the choppy waters of New Zealand’s Cook Strait when he spotted a Great White shark beneath him.
A pod of 10 dolphins reportedly quickly surrounded him and stayed by his side until the shark swam away.
It’s a fascinating display of protective behavior that shows how intelligent these animals really are.
Why Are Sharks Scared Of Dolphins?
Dolphins are thought to be peaceful, calm, and friendly animals, but it’s a well-documented fact that they can be extremely aggressive at times.
When congregating in large numbers and fighting for food, dolphins can be very aggressive, even towards humans.
Sharks are aware of this, and it’s part of the reason why they’re cautious when around a pod of dolphins, especially when alone.
Dolphins are incredibly agile animals, capable of swimming at speeds of up to 60km/h and because of their dorsal fins are able to easily outmaneuver a shark.
Sharks are nowhere near as flexible as a dolphin, which puts them at a disadvantage when it comes down to a faceoff.
Dolphins are also more intelligent, understanding the shark’s weaknesses and where best to strike, often targeting the soft underbelly or gills of a shark.
This can prove to be fatal and plays a role in why sharks are scared of dolphins. Many sharks are fortunate enough to escape dolphins by fleeing, but when it comes to trying to outrun an Orca, there is nowhere to hide.
Are sharks scared of dolphins? Yes, there is no doubt that sharks are wary and cautious when it comes to being around a pod of dolphins.
Being outnumbered multiple times over can be intimidating, even for the most feared animals in our oceans.
Dolphins, despite their friendly appearance, can be aggressive and hostile towards sharks, often injuring them in their sensitive parts which can lead to a quick death for sharks.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you’ve learned something new today from being here.
If you have enjoyed this post, feel free to stay a while and learn more about sharks, dolphins and lots more wonderful marine life.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.