Are Dolphins Faster Than Sharks?

Yes, most dolphins are faster than sharks. Even the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is the fastest marine mammal.

In this article, you will learn more details about dolphins’ speeds.

What Is the Fastest Shark?

Shortfin mako
Shortfin Mako

Shortfin makos are the fastest sharks in the ocean, capable of reaching the speed of 35 mph (56 kph). This speed is remarkable for a shark species that can grow up to 3 meters long and weigh more than 200 kg, making them some of the largest predatory fish in the oceans.

When they use their outstanding speed to chase down prey such as bluefish and tuna, they become an exciting challenge for sport fishermen who love testing their skills against these powerful beasts.

What Is the Fastest Dolphin?

Delphinus delphis
Delphinus delphis

The fastest dolphin is the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). This species of dolphin can reach astonishing speeds of up to 37 mph (60 kph), making it the fastest marine mammal. Common dolphins are quite agile and have a hydrodynamic body shape that allows them to easily move through the water. They make use of their fluke and dorsal fin to propel themselves forward while also using their pectoral fins to steer and maneuver.

Common dolphins are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, usually in groups or pods numbering anywhere from 10 to 100 animals. They feed mostly on small fish like anchovies and sardines, as well as squid and crustaceans.

These dolphins communicate with each other by producing whistles, clicks, and other sounds underwater, which they use to coordinate hunting activities or keep in contact with others in their pod.

This species of dolphin may look similar to various other dolphins, but there are key features that distinguish them from others, including their long slender beak, unique hourglass patterned coloration along their sides, and tall dorsal fin.

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In addition to being speedy swimmers, these animals are known for being very social creatures who enjoy playing together both above and underwater. They can even be seen jumping out of the water as they travel at top speed.

Are Dolphins Faster Than Sharks?

Yes, dolphins are generally faster than sharks. A comparison of the two animals’ speeds relies heavily on the species, size, and terrain in which they are found. Generally, bottlenose dolphins can swim up to about 17-20 mph for short bursts, whereas most sharks swim around 15-19 mph for extended periods.


However, some species of sharks — such as the mako shark, the fastest shark, can achieve much greater speeds, reaching up to 35 mph in short bursts. And common dolphins, the fastest dolphin, can swim at 37 mph.

So, if you compare the slower dolphin species with the faster shark species, then it doesn’t make sense.

Dolphins have specially adapted bodies that allow them to travel through the water quickly, including a sleek and hydrodynamic shape, flukes that are used for propulsion, and a strong upper body with muscles that help hold their position in the water.

In comparison, sharks typically rely on powerful tails for movement, which gives them less agility and speed than dolphins.

Additionally, dolphins often use a technique called ‘porpoising,’ which involves leaping out of the water to increase speed. Sharks lack this ability and cannot reach the same speeds as dolphins over short distances.

In terms of long-distance swimming races, however, sharks may have an edge due to their lower metabolic rate, which allows them to swim for longer periods without rest or sustenance.

As such, most swimming competitions pitting dolphins against sharks tend to be won by whichever creature tires first before reaching the finish line – meaning that depending on the conditions of a race, either creature can win.

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Can Sharks Be Faster Than Dolphins?

Sharks can be faster than dolphins only in certain conditions. Dolphins are usually faster than sharks. But some shark species have been documented as reaching speeds up to 35 mph, much faster than a bottlenose dolphin’s 18 mph limit. This speed advantage is especially noticeable in pelagic sharks like mako sharks, which can stay at top speed long enough to beat most dolphins in open water.

Also, some shark species can swim faster than dolphins because their muscles are stronger, and their tails and fins are bigger. This gives them an added edge regarding sprints or short bursts of speed.

However, it should also be noted that dolphins tend to be better adapted for endurance swimming due to their higher metabolic rates and more efficient heart structures compared to sharks.

How Fast Does a Dolphin Swim?

The speed at which a dolphin swims is incredibly impressive and varies depending on the species. Bottlenose dolphins can swim at speeds up to around 17-20 miles per hour (mph), while common dolphins are known for their incredible speed, reaching up to 35 mph in short bursts. This speed allows them to hunt more effectively and evade predators more quickly.


Dolphins have evolved a unique muscular structure that gives them an aerodynamic advantage when swimming; their highly adapted bodies generate powerful thrusts that propel them along at an astonishing rate of knots.

The musculature of the flukes and dorsal fin are also incredibly important for propulsion, helping them make sharp turns during chases or catching prey.

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In addition to their muscular physiology, dolphins also use complex behaviors like cooperative hunting or ‘wave riding’ to increase their speed, allowing them to pass through the water more easily and efficiently.

Although dolphins lack any form of feet or webbed feet that give fish such as trout an advantage in the water, they have adapted other ways of propelling themselves through the water that make them one of the fastest animals in the sea.

How Fast Does a Shark Swim?

The speed at which a shark swims largely depends on the species. Generally, they can move through the water between 15-19 miles per hour, and some of the faster species, like the shortfin mako, can reach speeds up to 35 mph.

Great White Shark

Sharks have adapted over time to become incredibly skilled swimmers. They use their powerful tails to propel them forward quickly and gracefully in search of prey or when trying to outmaneuver predators.

They also use their fins as rudders, allowing them to make sharp turns at high speeds without losing momentum. Despite their speed and agility in the water, sharks usually need rest periods and can spend much of their day drifting around in ocean currents or simply resting on the sea floor.

However, when they need to accelerate, there is nothing more impressive than watching a fully grown shark swimming at full speed – truly a sight that never fails to amaze.


Sharks and dolphins are two of the most impressive swimmers in the ocean. Each is adapted for very different purposes. Dolphins seem to be faster than sharks. However, their speed actually depends upon several factors like habitat and species.

Despite their differences, they both have adapted unique physiological and behavioral traits that make them incredibly skilled swimmers.

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