Dolphins attack dangerous sharks

Animals save peopleDolphins, the swimmer in front Sharks to protect

A Californian surfer is seriously injured by a great white shark, suddenly several dolphins appear, forming a protective circle around the man. With the last of his strength, he makes it to shore. This is what happened in 2007. Such cases occur again and again, the biologist Mario Ludwig reports on them.

Sometimes there are a few dolphins, sometimes a whole school of dolphins, who protect themselves between a shark and a surfer or swimmer in order to save their lives. One would think that a dolphin cannot do much against a shark because it has harder teeth and a more resilient skin.

Dolphins can kill sharks too

Cut sharks, it's about fighting strength, compared to dolphins, often worse: Dolphins can definitely kill sharks: Although sharks can score with sharper teeth and a harder and therefore more resistant skin in the dolphin-shark comparison, there are advantages overall the dolphins.

"But dolphins also have a dark side: It has been observed several times that dolphins circle young sharks and then play with them, like a cat with mice, before killing them."
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The fact that dolphins are often far superior to sharks is due to their high maneuverability. A dolphin is much more agile than a shark, which has to do with the structure of its tail fins.

Vertical caudal fin vs. horizontal

In sharks, the caudal fin is arranged vertically, which greatly limits the ability to dive up and down quickly. Dolphins, on the other hand, have a horizontal tail fin with which they can easily perform rapid upward and downward movements.

Injury internal injuries to the shark with the snout

It is precisely this ability that allows dolphins to ram the belly of a shark from below with their hard snout at great speed and inflict such severe internal injuries that it dies from it.

Dolphins also have special tricks up their sleeves that they can use to trick sharks.

Dolphins can use intelligence to kill in a targeted manner

Dolphins simply stir up plenty of sand on the ocean floor to steal the sharks from sight. While the sharks can only rely on their sense of smell "blinded" in this way, the dolphins are able to attack their opponent in a targeted manner thanks to the body's own sonar.

Kill without intent to eat

Dolphins also have a dark side, says biologist Mario Ludwig. It has been observed several times that dolphins circle young sharks and then play with them, similar to cats with mice before killing them. This is a real murder, says the biologist, because the dolphins do not eat the sharks that have been killed.

"Thanks to the fact that they are mammals with a lot of subcutaneous fat, dolphins are calorie bombs."
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Explanatory attempts by researchers

But why do dolphins now from time to time help people with shark attacks? The biologist Mario Ludwig finds explanations from science for the unusual behavior of marine mammals still unsatisfactory. New Zealand dolphin specialist Rochelle Constantine said that it is normal for dolphins to react selflessly. You wanted to help the helpless, says the researcher.

Hypothesis: perceive people as clumsy relatives

Another possible explanation is the so-called protective reflex hypothesis, which states that dolphins perceive people as something like clumsy relatives whom they want to help.

Because dolphins often support each other. This is especially true for young dolphins. In the beginning, mothers consistently keep the head of a newborn dolphin calf above water so that it can breathe.

However, the biologist Mario Ludwig doubts whether the otherwise clever dolphins actually mistake a person for their own offspring.

Misinterpretation of the behavior of dolphins towards sharks

Mario Ludwig can imagine that we humans misinterpret certain behavior of dolphins towards sharks. Because if dolphins attack sharks, it does not necessarily mean that they are specifically protecting people who happen to be nearby.