Water covers about 71% of the earth. This entails that the ecosystem is occupied by lots of sea prey and predators. Meanwhile, we are going to focus on the largest and gruesome sea creatures; the Sharks and Dolphins. Do Sharks eat Dolphins?
Yes! Sharks can prey on dolphins. The basic rule of the natural world is the big ones eat small ones. Large sharks prey on small dolphins when they are hungry. The dolphins’ pod makes it most difficult for sharks to attack dolphins. Sometimes these attacks are ambush as sharks usually attack from below. A 15 ft great white shark that weighs 3,000 lb. or more and can easily take on a 400 lb. small dolphin. It is rare to experience the shark attacks on dolphins. However, dissection of some sharks during studies shows dolphins partially or wholly swallowed.
Sharks are the most fearsome sea predators. With the utter of “sharks” the human mind pictures a frightful sea animal.
Humans have been conditioned to think that sharks and Dolphins are arch enemies. Where the sharks are the frightful predators while the dolphins are the protagonists.
Why Do Sharks Attack Dolphins?
Researchers made a deduction that shark attacks may not even be an attempt to eat a dolphin. Instead, in some cases, a shark attack on a dolphin may be to defend her territory. This fact needs more research to test these hypotheses.
A marine biologist, Dr. Kate Sprogis, describes why sharks might prey upon dolphins. Thus, dolphins are intelligent and exist in pods. Meanwhile, sharks are mostly lone predators.
Think of a fight between the shark and dolphin as a fight of muscle versus mind. Dolphins are clearly not easy prey. Dolphins tend to be more agile and can swim faster than many sharks because of their physique.
More so, due to their high intelligence, dolphins can communicate with echolocation to alert other dolphins of dangers. These may include when a shark is coming and how large of a threat the shark is likely to be.
The communication between the dolphins in a pod gives them the chance to flee if the shark shows signs of aggression. They may as well try to defend themselves in some cases.
Dolphins also have self-defense tactics; they usually attack sharks by aiming for shark’s sensitive underbelly.
On the sharks’ side, they are stealth hunters. Sharks would hover around underwater spying on a group of dolphins. They likely attack only if the dolphin is weak, distracted, small, or separated from the group.
Basically, dolphins are actually not on top of the sharks’ food chain. They usually waste an enormous amount of time trying to nail a dolphin. For this reason, dolphins are not a top choice meal for the Sharks.
What Kind of Sharks Eat Dolphins?
The main shark predators of dolphins are the bull shark, tiger shark, dusky shark, and great white shark.
Shark bite scars on dolphins show that sharks typically attempt to ambush dolphins from behind and below. These attacks in most cases are not to prey on the dolphins. Instead, it usually involves struggles for territory and food.
Sharks and dolphins often tolerate one another. Consequently, they may feed on the same school of fish in the same area! However, a puzzling circumstance may arise as sometimes they struggle for food and territory.
On the west coast of Florida, the most important predators of the bottlenose dolphins are the sharks.
Great white sharks may have an ontogenetic shift in their diet when they reach over a certain length. This means that when great whites get large enough, their diet shifts to include marine mammals such as seals, and on rare occasions, dolphins.
Are Sharks Afraid of Dolphins?
That sharks are in fear of dolphins is not much of a puzzle recently. The basic reason for their fear is the fact that dolphins possess more qualities than these sea predators.
First, the dolphins are so flexible and with a combination of soft skin and flexible skeletal joints. It makes it easier for the dolphins to move their body quickly in a fight against the Sharks.
Also, the shark tails limit their mobility, while the dolphins’ tail allows for great agility and directional change for quick attacks.
When you attack the dolphin, you get the snout. Their noses are made up of very strong and thick bones. Dolphin snouts are biological battering rams.
Dolphins will position themselves several yards under a shark and burst upwards poking their snout into the soft underbelly of the shark causing serious injuries.
Again, sharks are solitary predators, whereas dolphins travel in groups known as pods. Whenever a dolphin is in trouble the rest of the pods comes to its rescue.
Using echolocation, Dolphins can quickly navigate through the water to avoid or attack sharks. Sharks are stealthy hunters. Hence, their best chance to take down a dolphin is when it’s unaware or in a blind spot.
However, the shark can escape if the first attempt is not successful. The escape means regrouping with the group and attack the shark with the rest of the pods.
Another superior quality of the dolphin is its intelligence coupled with its incredible speed. They can swim fast faster than most shark species. That makes the sharks rest to become prey.
What Roles Does the Orca Whale Play in Sharks’ Fear of Dolphins?
The orca whale is the largest part of the dolphin family. This species prey on great white sharks when food is scarce.
Proving from basic knowledge, Orca whales are shark tamers. Sharks can prey on anything smaller than themselves, which includes a baby dolphin.
However, attacking a baby dolphin can go either way. This is because when a shark chooses to attack a baby dolphin, it will also subject itself to the attack of a pod of angry dolphins.
Do Dolphins Prey on Sharks?
There are documented accounts of killer whales targeting sharks’ livers. Possibly, great whites may have been part of the killer whale’s diet well before then. Hence, the rising rate of attacks is proof that the great white is part of the killer whales’ menu.
The chances of witnessing an altercation between the great white and the killer whale are extremely low. Since it is almost impossible to witness the fights, biologists track the aftermath. Most dead great white found on the water do lose their liver.
Two great white shark carcasses had washed up on South African beaches without their livers a few years ago.
In each of the documented attacks, the killer whale made extremely precise bites on the sharks. They target the livers, stomachs, and testes of the sharks.
Sharks’ livers have very high concentrations of oil and fats. More so, compared to other animals they are very large.
This makes a great white shark’s liver one of the best sources of quick energy in the ocean. The killer whales seem to have learned this and are targeting sharks specifically for their nutrient-rich livers.
Do Dolphins Interact with Sharks?
A common belief that if there are dolphins nearby that means no sharks in the area. This depends on the environment and species of sharks and dolphins.
Meanwhile, sharks and dolphins share the same food source. As a result, they are likely to be seen in the same area and at the same time with hopes of grabbing a meal.
Sharks keep their distance from larger dolphins. Thus, the great white shark would usually swim away from the orca whale when they are on the same hunting area.
Also, dolphins may keep their distance from sharks especially the larger ones. Though, they might still share the same space.
What Type of Relationship Do Sharks and Dolphins Have?
The relationship between Sharks and dolphins are complex. Think of the dolphins and the sharks to hate each other, yet they share the same space and still prefer not to interact.
These sea creatures do not go together and differ in so many ways.
Perhaps sharks are cold-blooded fishes. Dolphins aren’t, they are warm-blooded mammals.
On the other hand, dolphins are cetaceans, this means they have to surface regularly to breathe air. Sharks use their gills to extract oxygen from the water, therefore they don’t surface.
Do Dolphins Protect Humans Against Shark Attacks?
There are reports of incidents describing dolphins protecting humans against shark attacks.
While this may sound interesting, what usually happens is that the sharks do not actually attack the human. If dolphins and sharks share the same territory and a human being happens to enter the same zone, the dolphins would likely surround the person.
Of course, when they are around, sharks stay at bay and don’t approach any further. More so, sharks don’t just attack humans as they don’t consider them as a meal.
This does not entail that dolphins protected the human. Most likely, the shark swam away because neither dolphins nor human is part of sharks’ meal.
Meanwhile, science shows that dolphins view humans as an intelligent species and may feel a closer connection to humans than other living beings.
This could make us understand why free divers are often accepted into a dolphins’ pod. And, why there have been very few attacks on humans in the wild.
Do sharks eat dolphins? Sharks are predators and can eat dolphins. However, they can only get to prey on baby dolphins. And, this also depends on the circumstances surrounding the hunting.
This page describes the relationship between sharks and dolphins. Sharks attack dolphins when they feel they can overpower them. On the other hand, dolphins sometimes attack sharks when they are trying to protect their species.
Though, most likely these species can share a region without fighting.