|MadSci Network: Zoology|
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 (http://www.dolphinresearch.org.au) 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 dolphins. 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 teeth!
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Zoology.