Video Shows Angry Dolphins Chasing a Great White Shark From Popular Beach
The shark was outnumbered.
A school of dolphins has been caught driving a great white shark out of a bay in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Spectacular drone footage shows the shark being chased by a growing number of dolphins until finally it gives up and swims away from them. This is the first time this sort of behavior from dolphins has been documented locally.
"Dolphins can be very aggressive when they need to be," says marine mammal scientist Gwen Penry, 40, of the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. "They are not always the happy and smiling animals that people believe but are also top predators and can be very aggressive around big sharks." Here's what the footage showed.
Drone footage shows a lone shark swimming in Plettenberg Bay, when two dolphins swim right up to it, flanking it. The two dolphins are then joined by 13 more, who all work together to surround the predator and force it away from shore. Some of the dolphins are even seen swimming directly over the shark. Keep reading to learn more and see the video.
Outnumbered and outmaneuvered, the shark gives up and swims away from the pod of dolphins. "The Great White knows it is no match for the far more maneuverable and faster dolphins in shallow water and will not waste its energy on them," Penry says. "The dolphins are letting the shark know it has been seen and that they are there and just making it clear that it would be wiser to move off elsewhere."
Authorities spotted 12 great white sharks on the Plettenberg Bay coastline, more than usual for October. There have been two fatal shark attacks in the bay over the last two months: local businessman Bruce Wolov was killed while swimming in June, and Cape Town restaurateur Kimon Bisogno was killed by a great white while swimming in September.
Orcas have been hunting sharks and eating their livers, recent drone footage confirmed. "Killer whales are highly intelligent and social animals. Their group hunting methods make them incredibly effective predators," says marine mammal specialist and study co-author Dr. Simon Elwen, Director of Sea Search and a research associate at Stellenbosch University.
The last fatal shark attack in Plettenberg was 11 years ago, which makes the recent attacks "shocking and unexpected," says Bitou Municipality Mayor Dave Swart. "It is concerning. We usually close beaches when sharks are spotted in the water, but it would be ideal to have an early warning system in place."
"It's a difficult time. There are plans in place, and they are unfolding, but that takes time," says Patty Butterworth, CEO of Plett Tourism. "We're all about conservation and preservation, and our beaches are one of our biggest attractions and assets."