If you’re looking to compare dolphins and sharks, there are some key differences. In the world’s oceans, they sometimes come to a head and fight each other, with dolphins often winning the battle of dolphin vs shark.

Differences in Dolphins and Sharks

These animals have a variety of similarities and differences, including the fact that dolphins are classified as marine mammals, while sharks are cartilaginous fishes. Dolphins are warm-blooded and breathe air with their lungs, while sharks are cold-blooded and use their gills to get oxygen from the water around them.

As a cartilaginous fish, sharks have skeletons that are made up of cartilage. Dolphins have a bony structure, including their snout, which can cause significant trauma to sharks in a fight.

Both sharks and dolphins can give birth to live young, while some species of sharks lay eggs in egg cases, which are also known as mermaid’s purses. Some sharks will actually develop eggs but retain them within the uterus until the young hatch and are then born.

These two types of animals also differ significantly in how they care for their young: dolphins nurse their young, and they live with their families for awhile. Sharks, on the other hand, do not care for their young, leaving them to fend for themselves.

Both dolphins and sharks have dorsal fins, which can make some people fear that they are seeing a shark, when in fact it’s a dolphin in the water. They both use their fins to help propel them through the water, but sharks have vertical tail fins that typically propel them in a side-to-side motion, while dolphins have a horizontal tail that they use in an up-and-down motion.

Little is known about the social structure of most sharks: they tend to be solitary animals, although some species such as nurse sharks prefer to live in groups. Dolphins have been studied significantly, and they travel in pods, where they are generally very social, with the group helping to take care of each other, such as helping sick dolphins to swim.

Dolphins, like sharks, are carnivorous. They may be opportunistic feeders, although some sharks may attack humans, which dolphins generally don’t do.

Both dolphins and sharks may eat fish, squid, shrimp, and crustaceans, although the proportions in their diets may differ based upon where they live and what kind of shark or dolphin they are. Sharks may also each other sharks, as well as marine mammals.

Dolphins breathe with the help of their blowhole, so they need to periodically surface from the water. Sharks, with the exception of periodic breaching behavior such as seen in great white sharks, will spend their entire lives under the water’s surface.

Dolphins vs Sharks

While sharks have a reputation as being scary and aggressive, they will often shy away from a fight with a dolphin. The main reason for this is that they aren’t usually fighting just one dolphin: because dolphins live in pods, they may have to contend with hundreds of dolphins.

Dolphins tend to be more flexible and more agile than sharks. In addition to having softer skin and more flexible skeletal joints that allow them to change direction quickly, even swimming backwards, which sharks cannot do, the orientation of a dolphin’s tail gives them more maneuverability.

Dolphins have a skeleton made of bone, and their beak or snout is largely bone, allowing them to inflict significant damage on sharks, particularly when they hit the shark’s softer underbelly.

Sharks are often the apex predators of their food web, but so are orcas, a species of dolphin. In fact, orcas may even hunt great white sharks especially when food is scarce, something that hunting with their pod allows them to be successful at.

Orcas have also mastered different methods of hunting sharks. They can flip sharks over onto their backs, which, in effect, stuns the shark, allowing the orca to tear into the shark and defeat and eat it.

Dolphins also tend to be faster than most shark species. While dolphins can reach speeds of 37 miles per hour, great white sharks may only get to 25 miles per hour.

Dolphins are also considered one of the most intelligent species on the planet. While many sharks are larger than their dolphin counterparts, the dolphins can evade them with echolocation or defend in a group.

While sharks can successfully hunt dolphins and tend to go over baby dolphin calves or weaker members of the pod, many dolphins find success within their numbers, escaping from sharks and leaving with just scars as proof of their battle.

In Summary

If you’re looking at dolphins vs sharks, you’ll find that there are a few similarities and a lot of differences. Sharks in particular hunt dolphins as a food source, and dolphins have had to develop methods to stay ahead of their predators.

Resources

https://marinesanctuary.org/blog/the-difference-between-sharks-and-dolphins/

https://seaworld.com/orlando/blog/10-reasons-sharks-have-dolphin-phobia/

https://us.whales.org/can-dolphins-fight-off-sharks/

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/short-beaked-common-dolphin

https://www.thoughtco.com/how-fast-can-a-shark-swim-2291556