Shark Showdown

Sharks Vs. Dolphins

While this is not a situation that occurs too often, sharks and dolphins have been known to clash in quite a few places around the world. For example, near the Bimini Islands in the Bahamas, the fins and backs of some dolphins bear shark-bite scars.

Many would assume that a shark vs. dolphin match would be quite one-sided, but in many cases dolphins are more than able to hold their own. Both animals have some very distinct advantages and disadvantages when finding themselves in a deadly battle with one another.

For most shark species, having the size and power advantage against a dolphin can give them the ultimate edge. Sharks are often the aggressors, and if they are able to disable a dolphin in their first attack, they will usually be successful. Additionally, sharks are known to be stealthy hunters. If they can sneak up on a dolphin while it’s crater feeding -- the process by which dolphins bury their beaks in the sand to dig for prey -- it can mean game over for the dolphin.

Dolphins do have quite a few advantages as well, though. While sharks usually have size, dolphins have strength in numbers. Living in groups allows the dolphins to detect sharks in their area before the sharks even attack. Multiple dolphins can work together to outmaneuver a shark and quickly escape. Dolphins can also swim faster than most shark species (mako sharks being the notable exception) and will usually outrun a shark before the shark can do too much damage.

Perhaps the greatest advantage a dolphin has over a shark is its intelligence. Dolphins utilize echolocation to send sound waves through the ocean. The waves bounce back with information that is decoded by the dolphin’s brain. A dolphin can use echolocation to expertly navigate, communicate, and even evade sharks. Perhaps the reason shark vs. dolphin battles don’t happen too often is because dolphins are able to choose habitats where they aren’t in danger of encountering larger predators.

Because of these advantages for both animals, a shark vs. dolphin battle won’t always have an obvious winner. It’s probably in the best interest of both animals to try and avoid each other.

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Did You Know?

Orcas May Specialize In Eating Sharks

While many dolphin species are smaller and less powerful than sharks, there is one dolphin that can make even the biggest sharks look like juveniles. They are orcas, also known as killer whales, and they are the largest member of the dolphin family. Average male orcas range from 20 to 26 feet long and weigh around 6 tons. Even the largest great white shark on record, at 21 feet long, would find itself at a size disadvantage against your average orca.

But do orcas use their size advantage to target sharks? Evidence suggests that may be true. In the waters off the coast of Costa Rica, orcas have been seen working together to take down a shark. It seems they are able to induce tonic immobility in a shark by turning it upside down, and rendering it still. In 2014, a video went viral in which a group of killer whales expertly teamed up to kill and eat a tiger shark.

These killer whales seem to erase all the advantages other predators usually have over dolphins, and they don’t take that for granted. In addition to sharks, they have been known to eat larger whales, walruses, seals, and sometimes even moose and deer that have gone for a swim.

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