Dolphins and many shark species are similar in shape and size, and inhabit the same regions and depths of the ocean. Sharks have a reputation for being fierce predators. hardly surprising when they are armed with rows of sharp serrated teeth that can easily bite through flesh and bone. Unlike dolphins, sharks have a very tough, sandpaper-like skin that is not easily punctured.

Dolphins, on the other hand, are seen as intelligent, playful creatures. They only have a single row of peg-like teeth which is mainly used for catching smaller fish. Their skin is soft, flexible and can be cut easily.

So at face value, it would seem that sharks would have the edge over a dolphin in a face to face fight - but all is not as it seems!

Since dolphins normally travel together in a group - known as a pod, if one of them is threatened by a shark, the other members of the group will join in to defend the dolphin that is in danger.

The dolphin's main weapon is their snout, otherwise known as their beak. It is made of very strong and thick bone, and has a hard, rounded end.

If the pod decides to defend against a likely shark attack, the dolphins will circle the shark very rapidly from different directions. This causes the shark to become confused and is then unable to choose a specific dolphin to chase.

When a dolphin becomes suitably positioned below a shark - usually at a distance of several meters, the dolphin will make a sudden rush at the shark's softer underbelly ramming it with his snout. This has the effect is like an extremely powerful punch. The shark can be seriously injured with a single blow, and they are often stunned or knocked unconscious. The dolphins will sometimes repeatedly ram a shark that has been very aggressive, and are quite capable of killing a large, dangerous shark.

However, attacking dangerous sharks clearly has an element of serious risk and so dolphins are often unwilling to attack the 'bigger boys' such as white sharks, tiger sharks, mako sharks and bull sharks, unless of course they have good reason to ie. protecting pregnant females, calves or injured individuals.

However, if a pod has no good reason to stay and fight then they will, more often than not, swim away.

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