Dolphins are widely thought as playful animals and have been spotted interacting with the largest fish in our oceans – the whale shark. This 15 metre (45 foot) shark weighs 15 000 kilograms (15 tons), but as a gentle filter-feeder it’s completely harmless.
Dolphin interactions with other animals are a source of fascination to marine biologists and whale shark associations with dolphins have been recorded since the 1970s. Some of the recorded interactions were dolphins approaching whale sharks and examining the enormous body, touching it with their fins and nuzzling the body with their own snouts
Dolphins have been recorded swimming in the slipstream created by a swimming whale shark, getting an energy boost from the freshly disturbed water. Dolphins do this with large whales and boats to help them move faster while saving energy.
Some interactions between whale sharks and dolphins appear playful, where the dolphins and the shark took it in turns to chase one another and swam in convoy for quite some distance. It seems that dolphins recognise that whale sharks pose no threat, and are simply amusing themselves with another species in their environment.
Image from www.flickr.com/photos/dkeats