The main mechanisms dolphins use to protect themselves include avoiding natural predators by detecting them with echolocation and traveling in numbers for safety. When they cannot avoid attacks or scare off predators, dolphins defend themselves by fighting with their attackers.
Echolocation is a type of biological sonar that allows dolphins to locate objects in the water based on the bouncing of their clicking call. They use echolocation not only to avoid shark and killer whale attacks but also to spot their prey or even to follow fishing ships.
Since dolphins travel together in large groups called pods, their predators are usually outnumbered and therefore not eager to attack. The pods can be comprised of several social groups and usually include females with their offspring and subadult males. Adult males join pods during mating. When faced with a possible attack, dolphins in the pod shake their bodies and try to intimidate the attackers. Because of this behavior, healthy, socialized animals are not often at risk.
While sick and old dolphins or adult males, which often swim alone, are exposed to greater danger, they defend themselves ferociously. They bite using sharp teeth and use their rostrums for head butts while outmaneuvering their attackers.