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Interspecies Conflict/Shark vs Crocodile Review


Hi again BK

1.Last week in response to Carly on a question titled Battles, you said that a Great White Shark would win against a Nile Crocodile. I agree with that but I was wondering what are some sharks a Nile Crocodile would win against? Also which shark would make the best match up with a Nile Crocodile?

2.If these animals did battle with a Whale Shark who would emerge the winner?

Whale Shark vs Great White Shark
Whale Shark vs Nile Crocodile
Whale Shark vs Hippo
Whale Shark vs Killer Whale
Whale Shark vs Walrus
Whale Shark vs Elephant Seal

Thank You

Hello Trish.

Q: What are some sharks a Nile crocodile would win against?
A: A key point I mentioned in the answer to Carly was "the killing technique of the crocodile (seize & drown) won't work as well on the aquatic shark as it will on a land-based animal that can't fight effectively in the water."  Most documentaries depict the crocodile as being a dominant creature having its way with a helpless herbivore it has snatched from the river's edge.  Against a shark the crocodile won't enjoy this same level of domination because the shark is just as accustomed too the water as the crocodile is.  Although a crocodile could clamp onto a shark to hold it in place, it would likely have difficulty advancing its position beyond that in some situations with one close to its own size.  Even though a crocodile's hide is better protected in some areas than a shark's hide (which is protected by many hard scales), a shark's bite (meant to slice and tear) can cause more damage on more places on a crocodile's body than a crocodile's bite (meant to hold or grip) can cause to a shark's body.  I favor a shark overall at equal or close weights because of this and because a shark is more maneuverable in water at most depths.  A crocodile may be favored against an equal-sized shark in shallow water (a shark relies on vertical movements more than the crocodile does), but not in deeper water where the shark has more advantages.  With Nile crocodiles capable of reaching weights of 1 ton or more, they can seriously outweigh many sharks and would be favored against a lot of them.  Great hammerhead sharks, mako sharks, bull sharks, and blue sharks are some well-known sharks that a Nile crocodile would be favored against.  These sharks are too small to cause a great deal of damage to the armored crocodile, and will have trouble getting away if the reptile clamps onto an area of their body with its jaws.

Q: Which shark would make the best matchup with a Nile crocodile?
A: Of the reasonably well-known shark species, I'd say the tiger shark.  If we use the maximum size for the Nile crocodile, the tiger shark will weigh about 2/3 of its weight.  Tiger sharks can be very aggressive, and their jaws can rip open turtle shells.  Although the tiger shark typically swims slowly, it can move surprisingly fast in a burst of speed to capture prey items.  In a battle with a Nile crocodile, the tiger shark will have a decent edge in maneuverability (fins and tail as opposed to just a tail), but will be giving up some size and flexibility to the reptile.  The outcome may be contingent in some part to water depth, but with all scenarios considered, this will be a very close fight.  I addressed this particular matchup a couple of years ago ("None" from 11/1/13) and gave the tiger shark the win based on their weights being reasonably close (tiger sharks can approach a ton on very rare occasions), but a shark weighing around 70% of a crocodile's weight will be a very close matchup for it.  With the tiger shark typically maxing out at somewhere between 1,300lb and 1,400lb, it will be a solid matchup for a Nile crocodile weighing close to a ton.  There's another matchup from the past ("Interspecies conflict" from 1/25/14; bull shark vs alligator) in which I assigned a 50/50 outcome between a bull shark (700lb) and an alligator (1,000lb).  In shallow water, a battle between similar-sized sharks and crocodilians will be close, but in open water the crocodilian will need a weight advantage to make it even.    

Whale Shark vs Great White Shark: The whale shark can weigh 9 times more than the great white shark.  Whale sharks are the planet's largest fish, weighing over 20 tons and sometimes measuring as long as a school bus.  It is a filter feeder, feasting on plankton, small fish, and other tiny aquatic organisms.  The whale shark's mouth wide (up to 5ft), and the tiny teeth therein aren't used for feeding purposes.  It is a peaceful animal, and has no offensive means of engaging another animal in a conflict.  It's highly unlikely a great white shark would attempt an attack on this behemoth because of its great size, and the whale shark's thick skin (4" in some places) will likely afford decent protection against many attacks (in theory).  If a great white shark gets it in its mind to employ an "attack and retreat" strategy repeatedly, it can certainly overcome the whale shark over time.  The great white shark won't realistically behave this way against this opponent, and nothing will come of this confrontation.  Although the great white shark is better equipped to win this battle "on paper", the realistic outcome is a stalemate.  

Whale Shark vs Nile Crocodile: The whale shark can weigh over 20 times as much as a Nile crocodile and measure twice as long.  Nile crocodiles have well-armored bodies and toothy jaws that can close with a great deal of force.  They kill by drowning, and rarely lose their grip on a victim once their jaws slam shut.  A whale shark is simply too large to have anything to worry about from a Nile crocodile.  The crocodile can theoretically clamp onto a fin of the fish and twist a piece of it off, but this action won't be worth the crocodile's energy and effort.  Most areas on the whale shark's body will be too large for the crocodile's jaws to latch onto, and the shark will simply continue swimming while taking the reptile along for the ride.  Neither animal can seriously harm the other, so the outcome is another stalemate.

Whale Shark vs Hippo: The whale shark can weigh over 7 times more than a large hippo, and will measure over 2 1/2 times greater in length.  For another size comparison, the distance from the whale shark's belly to its back will be greater (by about 25%) than the shoulder height of the hippo.  The thick-skinned hippopotamus can open its jaws close to 4ft wide, and has long, lower canines used for slashing and forward-protruding lower incisors used primarily for thrusting (in conflicts).  Hippos love the water, but they really can't swim.  Instead, they move through deeper water by walking or bouncing along the bottom.  In water deep enough to accommodate the whale shark, the hippo will be limited in its movement (especially in attempting an attack).  The hippo's canines and incisors are capable of causing injury to the whale shark if the hippo is in the right position, but unless the huge fish is "beached" or stranded in shallow water, the hippo won't realistically be able to achieve this position.  A fair fight really can't be orchestrated here; the hippo can win if the whale shark can't move, but the hippo can't attack effectively if the water is deep enough to allow free movement for the shark.  The outcome of this fight is conditional.   

Whale Shark vs Killer Whale: The whale shark will weigh close to 3 times more than the killer whale and measure about 1/3 longer than the mammal.  Killer whales (orcas) are intelligent and innovative hunters.  One video I watched showed a group of killer whales swimming rapidly under an ice floe in order to create a wave strong enough to knock the seal sitting on it off into the water.  They hunt in packs, and sometimes attack large whales (which will aid one in this matchup).  A killer whale's teeth can measure 4" long, and these are made to grip and tear.  This is one animal that has the means to attack and kill a whale shark.  The killer whale will have better maneuverability than the whale shark, and repeated bites will eventually dispatch the larger animal as it will have no real way to defend itself.  Killer whale wins.

Whale Shark vs Walrus: The whale shark can weigh over 10 times as much as a large bull walrus.  A walrus is very maneuverable in the water, and is armed with tusks sometimes measuring over 3ft in length.  These can cause serious injuries to many attackers (including the fearsome polar bear and other walruses).  The hide of a walrus is extremely tough and provides great protection, but that fact won't really come into play in this matchup.  These animals will simply ignore one another.  The walrus has the ability and the means "on paper" to injure the whale shark by repeatedly stabbing it with its tusks, but it won't realistically perform this action if it crosses paths with a whale shark.  As with the great white shark matchup, this outcome will realistically be a stalemate.

Whale Shark vs Elephant Seal: The whale shark can weigh about 5 1/2 times as much as a Southern elephant seal and about 9 times as much as a Northern elephant seal.  Elephant seal have bites that can be effective in some battles (males often engage in a bloody fights with one another), but it's unlikely the elephant seal's bite will cause serious harm to a whale shark without significant accumulation.  The seal won't realistically attack the shark in any situation, and these 2 animals don't have an easy way to harm one another.  Another stalemate.  

Best regards.  

Interspecies Conflict

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Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.


From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

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