Do Dolphins Eat Sharks?

The consumption of sharks is not a common trait among most dolphin species.

In fact most species of dolphin stick to a diet that contains a variety of fish and other small aquatic life forms such as squid, octopus and various crustaceans.

The only dolphins known to hunt and eat sharks are the killer whale and “possibly” the false killer whale; and yes both species belong to the dolphin family.

While it is rare that a killer whale will eat a shark, there are a few cases where these marine mammals have been observed hunting sharks when they are hungry and their food supply is limited.

In fact when it comes to the dolphins species the killer whale is the largest of all dolphins.

These marine mammals can grow to lengths of up to 30 feet and weigh as much as 12,000 pounds!

The killer whale has been known to attack and consume a variety of prey from fish, squid and sharks to other marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, marine birds and even whales.

The false killer whale is the third largest species among the dolphin family and has also been observed eating a number of prey that the killer whale hunts, however despite their similar name these two marine mammals are not closely related.

In cases where killer whales attack a shark they often hunt in groups using team oriented hunting strategies to capture their prey while also minimizing the chances of being injured themselves.

During these hunting expeditions killer whales may be seen circling a shark or forcing it into a corner while another killer whale swims up from underneath the shark to flip it, which paralyzes the shark and puts it into a catatonic state so that it is defenseless while the killer whales go in for the kill.

When it comes to other dolphin species most dolphins are too small to hunt other cetaceans or larger prey and are not designed (both physically and mentally) to hunt them either.

Although most species of dolphin have functional teeth only a few species use their teeth to tear apart their prey so that the can consume it more easily.

Other species only use their teeth to grab onto their prey and will swallow their food whole while others appear to have little or no use for their teeth at all.

List of foods dolphins can be found eating:

  • Fish (various types)
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Squid
  • Plankton
  • Krill
  • Cephalopods
  • Crustaceans
  • Marine birds (eaten by killer whales and false killer whales)
  • Seals (eaten by killer whales and false killer whales)
  • Sea lions (eaten by killer whales and false killer whales)
  • Sharks (eaten by killer whales and false killer whales)
  • Whales (eaten by killer whales and false killer whales)

As a species dolphins belong to the cetacean family which is also composed of whales and porpoises.

In all there are around 80 – 90 known species of cetacea recorded so far.

All cetaceans are marine mammals which means they are warm-blooded, produce milk, give birth and breathe air.

All species are also carnivorous animals, however out of all of the cetacean species (including whales and porpoises) the killer whale and false killer whale appear to be the only species that hunt other cetaceans and large animals such as seals, sea lions, penguins and whales for food.