Dolphin vs. Shark
One look at our dolphin Chippy answers the question of whether or not sharks attack dolphins....undoubtedly yes! She is DE's best example of the everyday dangers facing wild dolphins. Her body bears scars from at least one shark attack - the large circular scar on her underside is indicative of a shark bite (with teeth marks to match) - her 'chipped-up' dorsal fin was most likely the result of a similar attack.
Chippy's Dorsal Fin
The idea that dolphins will seek out sharks for undersea battle is largely incorrect. It is the unfortunate perception stemming from the 60's "Flipper" generation, when scientists like John Lily were respected for preaching about the psychic abilities of dolphins and their 'cosmic connection' to humans. What we know now as the result of legitimate research is exactly the opposite - dolphins will AVOID natural predators whenever possible. Sharks can often swim two to three times faster than dolphins and have a much more ferocious disposition. Fortunately, in many cases, dolphins are able to elude attack by detecting them with the use of biological sonar (i.e. echolocation).
Shark Bite Scar on Chippy's Belly
In addition to sonar, dolphins rely on each other for defense. They travel in numbers for protection (females with offspring, adult males, and sub-adult males each comprising their own social groups). Those who fall prey to attack are usually either alone, ill, injured, very young or very old. Healthy, alert, social animals are not often at risk.
In the case of a shark attack, dolphins will defend themselves. What they lack in speed they make up for in maneuverability. Between the whip of their tail and the ram of their rostrum, dolphins can be a force to reckon with. An open mouth full of sharp, conical teeth can also prove a deadly weapon.