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Is a dolphin faster at swimming than a shark?

From everything I can find, I think the answer is yes, dolphins are faster than sharks. However, there is a general problem in comparing the speeds of animals. Animals can always move faster for a short time than for a long time. Human athletes can run a short race of one hundred yards at about twenty-two miles per hour. But for a long race of a mile, the best speed is about sixteen miles per hour.

We have some observations on the speed of dolphins because they often swim close to the surface and like to swim alongside ships for long periods. Then their speed can be measured from the ship's speed. It seems that several different kinds of dolphins can swim at speeds up to twenty-four miles per hour for periods of ten to thirty minutes.

We do not have the same kinds of measurements for sharks. A blue shark was studied while swimming against a current at eighteen miles per hour, and it was able to reach higher speeds in short bursts. It may be that dolphins are faster over long periods and that sharks are faster for very short periods, a speed they use in attacking prey.
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Title Annotation:Science letters
Author:Golden, Shay
Publication:Highlights for Children
Date:Jan 1, 1997
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