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Friday, November 25, 2011

Are Open Water Swimmers Protected By Dolphins?

After wondering if open water swimmers are truly and naturally protected from sharks by dolphins and porpoises as is commonly believed by many channel swimmers, there are a wide variety of opinions on this topic.

Many open water swimmers believe that if dolphins or porpoise are near them in the open water, there is no need to fear sharks. The playful mammals, man's best friend in the ocean, are often said to be a sign of good luck and protection.

But established scientists like Michael Heithaus raises a different possibility. He presented a study called Predator–prey and competitive interactions between sharks (order Selachii) and dolphins (suborder Odontoceti): a review, that shares findings similar to television programs like the Discovery Channel's Are Sharks Afraid of Dolphins?. That is, sharks remain the apex predator in the ocean and do not fear dolphins or porpoises, except perhaps when out-numbered.

Richard Theiss of RTSea Productions believes what the scientific community has presented in published peer-review articles, but he also points out an important truth. "...what Michael had to say in his study is important: different species, different locations, different circumstances – all this makes it difficult to make a definitive statement. The Mythbusters video clip errors in not making the distinction between a white shark’s role as an ambushing predator and that of a scavenger. Each generates different behavior patterns. As a scavenger, which is what it was doing with the floating tuna head, it can be easily put off by another large fish in the area (did it look like a dolphin or another shark?). It’s just looking for an easy meal and doesn’t want to have to compete for it. I’ve seen this many times with white sharks at Isla Guadalupe (see RTSea Productions video below).

So, sharks will kill dolphins on occasion – seeking a slow, sick, or aged fish, just like the great white shark does in selecting a pinniped (seal or sea lion). What needs to be examined in a definitive study and not just through anecdotal storytelling is whether dolphins will show any aggressive tendencies towards sharks. It’s not so much as to whether sharks are scared of dolphins, but whether dolphins are fearless when it comes to sharks
."



Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

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