Dolphins and Sharks: Friends or Foes?

They both call the ocean home, and even though they are often found near each other (because they eat the same food), for the most part, sharks and dolphins keep to themselves. But when they do interact, are they friends or foes? We certainly wouldn’t go as far to say they are friends, but foes? Well, maybe. With the bite marks to prove it, there are times when dolphins and sharks have been known to clash.

So what happens when a dolphin and shark come in contact with each other, and who has the advantage? With their size and power, sharks ultimately have an edge over dolphins. By nature, sharks are aggressors and savage hunters. Dolphins are most vulnerable when they are crater feeding (the process by which dolphins bury their beaks in the sand to dig for prey), and a shark will often use this as an opportunity for a surprise attack. Unfortunately, this typically doesn’t end well for the dolphin.

While the ocean’s deadliest predator may have a slight advantage, dolphins can certainly hold their own. Because dolphins travel in packs, they have strength in numbers. Living in groups allows the dolphins to detect sharks in their area before sharks have a chance to attack. If there is a threat of an attack, multiple dolphins work together to outmaneuver a shark and quickly escape danger.

Dolphins also have the advantage of speed as they can swim faster than most shark species. Of course, the biggest advantage dolphins have over sharks is intelligence, especially through echolocation (when dolphins send sound waves through the ocean). The waves bounce back with information that is decoded by the dolphin’s brain. A dolphin utilizes echolocation to navigate, communicate, and perhaps most importantly, avoid predators.

Are you interested in seeing dolphins in their natural habitat? Join us on one of our sight-seeing dolphin tours on beautiful Boca Ciega Bay! Tours set sail from John’s Pass in Madeira Beach. For more information or to check availability, please call 727-423-7824.

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