MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Can a Pod of Dolphins Kill a Great White??

Date: Mon Aug 28 18:26:53 2000
Posted By: Alastair Lyon, Staff, CSIRO Enquiries, CSIRO - Australia
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 962836036.Zo

Funny you should ask that. We had a radio station here that looked at 
things like this last year - it ended up with people wondering about a 
battle between a Tiger and a Squid!

I've never worked with dolphins, but I have had experience in animal 
behaviour. To start though, the dolphin research institute in southern 
Australia ( has a questions and answer 
page that is worth looking at:

Q: Is it true that where there are dolphins there are no sharks? 
A. No, this is a fallacy. Although dolphins and sharks do not seek each 
other to attack, they appear to have a mutual respect. Normally, a shark 
will only attack a lone dolphin, a sick dolphin or a calf that strays from 
its mother. In Port Phillip Bay, the large male dolphins that usually live 
outside the bay come inside at the beginning of October, which is the same 
time that the bronze whaler sharks come into the bay to mate and give 
birth. Male dolphins form a guard around the females and young to protect 
them during this time. Sharks usually keep their distance from the 

Bronze whaler sharks are small, but aggressive. An adult Great White Shark 
is about 5-7 times bigger, longer and scarier than a bronze whaler. In 
fact, a small dolphin would fit between its jaws without touching the 
teeth! However, Great Whites like eating seals, which are much easier to 
detect, catch and according to new science, they prefer the taste (even 
over humans!). I doubt there would ever be a scenario when an adult Great 
White attacked a healthy pod of adult dolphins. Sharks are very wary 
animals and unlikely to approach a pod that is guarding young.

But, for the fun of the argument, if you played Animal Gladiators and 
pitted an adult shark with an adult dolphin, I'd put my money on the shark 
time and time again. The dolphin has the brains but the shark has those 

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