dolphin and a shark swimming
Who is faster?

Who Is Faster, A Dolphin Or Shark? Physical Features Do Affect The Speed!

Dolphins can swim faster than sharks because dolphins are shaped like a tube, which helps them swim faster. Sharks are fast too, but in most cases, because of their body shape, dolphins get the advantage. Dolphins, on average, can swim up to 60 km/h (37 mph), and sharks can reach speeds of 50 km/h (31 mph).

Let’s find out why this is and how the physical features affect the speeds at which these animals can reach.

Different Physical Features (Shark vs Dolphin)

A dolphin and a shark
Dolphin and Sharks

Even though these marine animals live in oceans, they are very different in their physical features. The dolphins come with flexible joints, which allow them to move quickly underwater. 

Their incredibly soft skin also reduces the friction underwater and helps these animals move more quickly when swimming. 

Compared to the dolphins, the shark’s body is much stiffer. Even though the shark has a cartilage-built body structure, it is still more rigid than the dolphins. 

This stiff body structure makes it difficult for the sharks to move underwater quickly. 

These fundamental physiological differences also give the dolphins a significant upper hand when fighting against a shark. As dolphins can move faster than sharks, they can easily land an attack on them.

The dolphins’ tails and the shark’s also greatly differ in speed. 

The tail of most shark species is somewhat like a vertical plane design. Even though this design gives the Sharks stability and power, it restricts sharks to downward or upward movement. 

Compared to that, the tale of the dolphins has a horizontal tail design, which helps them change their direction faster and enables them to be more agile than the sharks. 

Dolphins also come with a snout of robust hard bone, which can cut through the water to gain more speed.

How fast do dolphins move in a pod?

On average, various species of dolphins can swim between 11 km/h to 16 km/h (7 to 10 mph). This speed is considered the average cruising speed when a group of dolphins travels together. Sticking to this speed means that dolphins of all ages and health can keep up.

How fast can an indivual dolphins swim?

Healthy individual dolphins can swim at speeds up to 60 km/h (37 mph). Some can get even faster if they are using the waves for assistance.

How fast can a shark swim?

Healthy sharks can reach speeds of 50 km/h (31 mph)

How do dolphins swim so fast?

Dolphins can swim at high speeds because of their uniquely formed, streamlined body. The shape of most dolphins is quite similar to tubes which helps them move quickly in the water. Thanks to their unique shape, the water flows effortlessly over the dolphins’ bodies, allowing them to swim faster and easier.

Does speed help the dolphins kill a shark?

Yes, the speed of a dolphin has the advantage over a shark. However, not only is the speed required to kill a shark, but intelligence and the ability to communicate with each other and work together are also needed.

Dolphins Can Kill A shark Because They Have:


With their power and size, the sharks generally have an advantage over an individual dolphin. 

Sharks are the top predators of the ocean. They are, by nature, very aggressive and savage hunters.

Dolphins alone and away from the pod are most vulnerable to shark attacks, especially when they are crater-feeding. 


In this feeding technique, the dolphins often use their snout forage and dig up the ocean floor to find the prey hiding under the sand. 

When a dolphin is busy finding its prey, the shark often takes its chance for a surprise attack.

However, this kind of attack does not bode well for the dolphins. In most cases, the pod comes to the rescue and the shark wishes he had never started the confrontation.

Even though dolphins know that they are not as powerful as a shark in most cases, they travel in a group. 

If a shark attacks a dolphin while it is with other dolphins, the shark will have a disadvantage.

In a fight, a shark also has the disadvantage of speed. As we have mentioned earlier, sharks swim slower compared to dolphins.

Which animal in the water is faster than sharks and dolphins?

Animals larger than dolphins and sharks that can swim faster are blue whales which can swim up to the rate of 62 km/h (39 mph). Bluefin tuna fish can swim at a speed of 64 km/h (40 mph) underwater.

Recommended Read: Do dolphins eat tuna?

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She is also a avid binge watcher of wild animal documentary's. Teresa has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. She has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.