A dolphin showing its teeth
Do dolphins bite?

Can A Dolphin Bite?

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  • Post category:Dolphins
  • Post last modified:12 January 2022
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Yes, dolphins can bite. All wild animals, including dolphins, can become aggressive when frustrated or afraid. Biting people in dolphins is rare but is not an exception for them. Even though dolphins have a cute image, they are still wild animals.

Other Attacking Tactics

Even though biting incidents are significantly rare, dragging swimmers down underwater, headbutting, or lashing out with their tails are some common attacking tactics that dolphins use. 

  • Headbutting
  • Tail Lashing

While most of the attacks are conducted by individual male dolphins, there is some evidence where a pod of dolphins has attacked a group of swimmers.

While the dolphins have a timid reputation, you still need to be very careful if you encounter a dolphin. 

All dolphins have different personalities, and some will be more aggressive than others.

In the following part of this article, we have pointed out why dolphins can be more dangerous than you consider them.

Dolphin Teeth

Dolphins have a row of razor-sharp teeth on their jaws. Even though these marine animals cannot use their teeth to chew their food, they are often ripped apart their prey. 

The common bottlenose dolphins have about 80 to 100 teeth used for hunting down their prey, gripping them, and securing them.

Recommended read: How long do dolphins live? 

Aggressive Attackers

Most people think dolphins have a purposeful grin on their faces, and they are adorable creatures. Which they are, however, from a distance only. 

Dolphins are wild marine animals and are aggressive towards aquatic animals, including other dolphins. Potential aggression tendencies are no different for humans. 

Dolphins are amazing creatures but should not be taken for granted for our benefit. They deserve respect as the clever creatures they are. If they feel threatened or smothered by humans, they can bite, which is a natural behaviour. 

Most of the time, the dolphins will primarily use their snout, just like a club. Dolphin attacks can be significantly powerful and painful. As the dolphins can dramatically swim fast, their attacks are strong.

Full-fledged dolphin attacks can result in severe injury and sometimes death. Dolphin attacks can result in spinal bone fractures, broken ribs, or damaged lungs.

Clever Hunters

The dolphins can be ruthless, clever killers when hunting down their prey. If these marine animals are hungry, they can become cold and calculating predators.

Dolphins can develop unusual attacking tactics for trapping and hunting down their prey thanks to their astonishing intelligence. 

For example, the dolphins living in the shallow waters of Florida mostly use their tails for hunting down their prey. They move their tail in a circular formation to trap the fish inside a water type vortex. 

Dolphins living in other areas do not use this hunting technique. For example, the dolphins that live in the oceans of shark Bay Australia use sea sponges as a tool to dig up the prey from the ocean floor.

While hunting down the prey, the dolphins of the same group communicate with each other to plan their attack. 

Dolphins learn different attack methods from each other, but they learn techniques from other animals.

Pod Hunting

Dolphins often hunt in their pods which is usually around fifteen dolphins. However, they can contain several hundred dolphins. 

When hunting in a group, the method used is herding. The dolphins will trap the fish and slowly group them all. Dolphins then take turns to feed on the grouped fish while the others continue to contain them. 

Torturing Their Prey

Unlike other animals, dolphins do not hunt other marine creatures to satisfy their hunger. They also hunt to take the pleasure of killing. In most cases, dolphins like to play with their prey before killing it. 

For example, Octopuses have developed some of the deadliest defence mechanisms against marine predators. 

Dolphins hunting octopuses, you will see how careful these animals are while making a meal out of these creatures. In most cases, the dolphins ruthlessly beat up the octopus by continuously and viciously tossing them around to ensure their prey cannot attack them back. This continuous tossing also helps the dolphins to break down the octopuses into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Dolphins Kill For Fun

Unlike most animals of the animal kingdom, dolphins kill other animals to enjoy the thrill of killing and playing with them. Dolphins often kill porpoises for fun and are entirely unrelated to their food needs.

Dolphin Kills Their Babies

While it may be hard to believe, dolphins can kill dolphin calves. Some reasons are to mate with the female, competition or territorial reasons. 

Recommended Read: Do dolphins eat their babies?

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. Teresa has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.