Many people view sharks as mindless murder machines, while they view dolphins as playful and adorable sea creatures, which begs the question; why are sharks afraid of dolphins? After all, dolphins seem quite harmless in comparison to blood-thirsty sharks. However, sharks have earned an unsavory, and undeserved, reputation.
While it is true that sharks are predators, they are not mindless killing machines. They are simply fulfilling their need to eat. While you certainly don’t want to be caught adrift in the ocean with a hungry shark nearby, you should also understand that sharks aren’t quite as terrifying as the media makes them out to be.
Firstly, sharks come in many different sizes. The smallest shark in the world, the dwarf lanternshark, can reach a maximum of eight inches in length! That’s hardly anything to fear, is it? Furthermore, while great white sharks are capable of killing or maiming humans, they don’t prefer humans as their main food source. On average, about 84 shark attacks occur every year.
On the flip side, humans are responsible for killing an average of 100 million sharks every year. This is devastating for vulnerable and endangered species such as great white sharks, great hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks.
Overall, sharks have plenty of reasons to fear humans. Despite their large size and many teeth, even sharks have things to be scared of. Aside from humans, one of their biggest fears is dolphins. Most people are shocked to learn that a supposedly monstrous creature like a shark has any reason to fear dolphins, which are largely viewed as being gentle and playful. Why are sharks afraid of dolphins?
Well, as we’ve just discussed, sharks are a bit more vulnerable than people make them out to be. Furthermore, while dolphins may have earned a reputation for being sweet and friendly among humans, they can behave quite differently towards sharks and other potential predators.
In today’s video, we’re going to look at the undiscussed dark side behind dolphins, and finally answer the question “Why are sharks afraid of dolphins?” Make sure you stick around until the very end of this video, where we’ll reveal one species of dolphin that’s even higher on the food chain than sharks!
Before we get started, make sure to like this video, and don’t forget to subscribe and click that notification bell so you can stay up to date with all of our videos!
Facts Verse Presents: Why Are Sharks Afraid of Dolphins?
Dolphins Are Intelligent
Dolphins are incredibly intelligent, giving them the upper-hand (or, in this case, the upper fin) against sharks. No matter how much brute strength an attacking shark may have, dolphins can use their intelligence to outsmart the hunter.
Several studies have concluded that dolphins are capable of recognizing themselves in mirrors, a trait that is only present in incredibly intelligent species. While a dog will view its reflection as a separate dog, intelligent species like elephants, apes, and, of course, dolphins, recognize that it is only a reflection. These playful creatures even make funny faces in underwater mirrors for their entertainment! Dolphins also demonstrate incredible emotional intelligence and have displayed emotions like grief and joy.
Sharks, on the other hand, simply aren’t as intelligent as dolphins. This can make them vulnerable to all sorts of clever dolphin tricks. If a shark chooses to hunt dolphins, it will probably end up getting bested in a battle of wits.
Dolphins Have Strength in Numbers
Sharks are solitary hunters. They don’t worry about swimming in groups, which means they don’t have to share food with anyone else. However, this puts them at a disadvantage against dolphins.
Dolphins are very social creatures, and they swim with many other dolphins in a group called a pod. Bottlenose dolphins, for example, typically travel in pods that contain between 5 and 20 dolphins. Even if a shark is larger and stronger than a single dolphin, there’s no way one shark can take on a whole pod! And while dolphins have a reputation for being gentle and friendly, they are more than capable of becoming aggressive if their lives are at stake.
Dolphins Are Protective of Their Babies
A pod of dolphins is typically made up of females and their babies, which are called calves. Calves are much smaller and far more vulnerable than fully-grown dolphins, which can make them a tasty snack for sharks.
However, no dolphin will put up with her calf being hunted. Even if a shark does manage to find a calf straggling behind the rest of the group, the pod will almost always realize the calf’s plight, and swoop in for the rescue. While dolphins can become quite aggressive to defend their own lives, they are even more brutal when defending the lives of their babies! Not even the hungriest sharks want to face the wrath of a mother dolphin. Click the like button if you’re impressed by these dolphin’s ability to defend their babies!
Dolphins Are More Agile than Sharks
Sharks have a cartilaginous skeleton, which means that their skeleton is made of cartilage. This is a softer and much more flexible tissue than bone, but it is still firm enough to provide plenty of support. This makes sharks incredibly flexible underwater. However, they are still bested by dolphins in this category.
Even though their skeleton is made of bone rather than cartilage, dolphins still manage to outrank sharks when it comes to agility. These fast creatures can twist and turn like nobody’s business in an underwater fight. No matter how flexible sharks are, they are no match for the agility of a dolphin!
The biggest reason for this difference in agility is the difference between their tails. Shark tails are made of a vertical plane, which means they can only rotate side to side. While this does help them change vertical direction, it still puts them at a serious disadvantage against dolphins.
Dolphin tails are made of a horizontal plane. This is because, like whales, dolphins are mammals. While fish move underwater by flexing their spine from side to side, mammals move on land by flexing their spine up and down. Even though dolphins and whales evolved to live underwater, they kept that special mammalian trait. As a result, dolphins can swim up and down with incredible ease, making them significantly more agile than sharks.
Sharks Only Get One Chance
Sharks have one major advantage underwater; their stealth. They swim silently by their prey’s blind spot and strike when the moment is just right. This is a great strategy against many different kinds of prey. However, this approach can make it more difficult for sharks to hunt dolphins.
Due to their incredible agility, dolphins can evade a shark’s attack with relative ease. The moment a pod of dolphins realizes they are being attacked by a shark, the game is up. If a shark misses its chance and is unsuccessful when it tries to snag a dolphin, it will have a very angry pod to deal with. As a result, many sharks have learned that dolphins simply aren’t worth the effort, and they usually go for easier prey.
Dolphins Are Too Fast
A lot of people view apex predators as being mindless hunting machines. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sharks, like other apex predators, have to learn to spend their time wisely. Hunting takes a lot of energy; energy they can’t afford to lose on an unsuccessful hunt. As a result, sharks have to learn to pick their battles.
Not only are dolphins more agile than sharks, but they are also way faster. Sharks simply can’t afford to spend energy on a fruitless chase, which will be sure to leave them even hungrier than when they began. This is why sharks prefer to hunt slower prey than dolphins.
Dolphins Have a Secret Weapon
As we mentioned earlier, sharks have the strength of stealth on their side. However, that strategy is rarely useful against dolphins. This is because dolphins have the special ability to use echolocation. Like bats, dolphins can emit sound waves to locate objects and get a better sense of their environment. Because of this, they can usually tell if a shark is trying to sneak up on them. Even if a shark does have the element of surprise, dolphins can swim through obstacles more efficiently, as sharks have very poor eyesight.
Dolphins Have a Powerful Snout
Bottlenose dolphins are known for their adorable snout. However, if you knew just how deadly their snout was, you probably wouldn’t think it was so cute. Dolphin snouts are made of especially thick bone, which makes them function like battering rams. With a calculated burst of energy, a dolphin can propel itself towards a shark’s soft underbelly, or its gills. One well-placed hit can seriously injure a shark, and can even result in death. As a result, many sharks have learned to fear dolphins and their terrifying snouts.
Sharks Aren’t Always the Apex Predator
Usually, sharks are at the top of the food chain. But one species of dolphin, known as orcas, or killer whales, have been known to shake up the natural order of things. This species is the largest kind of dolphin, and they use their size and intelligence to their advantage. If they are especially hungry, some orca pods can hunt a fully grown great white shark!
These dolphins use their tails to flip a hunted shark onto its back. When upside-down, the shark is completely defenseless, and the orcas can feast without any trouble.
Overall, dolphins are far stronger than many people give them credit for! Were you more surprised to learn that sharks aren’t as vicious as they seem, or that dolphins can be far more aggressive than most people assume? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!