by Pat Franklin
I am an avid watcher of almost any documentary, and this week there were two fascinating programs, one about dolphins and sharks and a second program about killer whales versus white sharks.
Did you know:
- Killer whales are not whales at all; they are dolphins! They are the largest dolphin species, mammals, growing up to 30ft and 6 tons. Wow.
- Sharks are fish and can grow up to 20ft and 2 tons.
Anyway, the one Mythbusters program did some research on whether or not sharks would attack when a dolphin was around. They concluded that for some unknown reason, the great white shark just turned and swam off if they had their fake dolphin in the water. Hmmm.
Then next day I watched the killer whale (killer dolphin really) versus great white shark program. For those who haven't seen this, look it up on youtube. Over 100 great whites were gathering in the north Pacific to feed off seals. Into the bay swam two killer whales. Who would dominate the bay?
It was no contest. One killer whale barged straight into a great white, knocking it senseless. It held the great white upside down for 15 minutes until it had drowned, and then proceeded to eat its liver.
As it did so, every other great white turned tail and swam for their lives. One didn't stop until it reached Hawaii 4000 miles away.
So, my conclusion is....sharks are afraid of killer whales, which are really dolphins. So when they see a harmless dolphin swimming around, even if there is food in the water, they turn and swim off rather than tangle with the small cousin of the killer whale.
This is probably because the great whites are not awfully bright, with tiny brains. They see...dolphin! Yikes! Get outa here! Killer whales on the other hand are very smart, with brains four times the size of humans.
Could this help deflect shark attacks? No one wants to carry a fake dolphin around, but perhaps every beach where there is danger could have a few made up and tie them to floats in the surf. Maybe it would be enough of a deterrent to keep sharks away. The easier way is to spray the seawater with dead shark material. They don't like that either.