Q:

How do you tell the difference between shark and dolphin fins?

A:

Quick Answer

There are a number of ways to tell the difference between sharks and dolphins. The easiest way is by examining the characteristics of the dorsal fin's shape; shark fins have a straight trailing edge, while dolphins' fins curve sharply backwards at the tip. According to Surf Look, another way to identify sharks is by noticing that their tail fins are vertical, while dolphins' back fins are horizontal.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Sharks' tail fins sometimes break the surface and trail along behind their dorsal fins. Generally, if more than one fin is breaking the surface of the water, the animal is quite likely to be a shark. Movement is another way to tell the difference between sharks and dolphins. Dolphins tend to move in more of an up-and-down manner when they swim. Sharks tend to move in more of a side-to-side motion.

Upon close inspection, it is easy to see that sharks' and dolphins' dorsal fins are attached to their bodies differently. Dolphins' fins emerge smoothly from their backs, while sharks' fins feature a triangular notch on the backside of the base. This feature visually separates this portion of the fin from the surface of the shark's back.

If the fin spotted matches the characteristics of that of a dolphin, there is also a chance that it can belong to a porpoise or whale.

Learn more about Marine Life

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How many pink dolphins are left?

    A:

    The Amazon River dolphin, which is also known as the boto or pink river dolphin, is estimated to number in the tens of thousands, according to the World Wildlife Fund. However, the pink river dolphin is still classified as a vulnerable species in some areas.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How does a shark protect itself?

    A:

    The 400 living species of sharks defend themselves in a variety of ways that vary from species to species. Large species, such as great whites, basking sharks and whale sharks derive protection from their size; they are too big to represent potential prey for any species except humans. Other species, such as carpet sharks, rely on their flattened morphology and cryptic coloration to avoid the detection of predators.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How are sharks and dolphins alike?

    A:

    Sharks and dolphins are alike in many ways, sharing several physical characteristics such as their side fins, dorsal fins and torpedo-shaped bodies. Although these animals vary wildly – one is cold-blooded and one is warm-blooded – they both evolved for underwater speed.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What items could you put into a dichotomous key to tell different types of sharks apart?

    A:

    A dichotomous key for sharks may include body shape, presence of a pelvic fin, number of gill slits or dorsal fins, mouth position, head shape, length of dorsal fin or caudal fin, presence of an anal fin, hornlike appendages near the head and special markings on body. Each dichotomous key differs depending on the species of sharks included.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore