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WILD facts: Distinguish tell-tale fins

POSTED: July 27, 2009 10:39 a.m.
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Could you tell if this was a shark fin or dolphin fin?

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If you spot a gray dorsal fin sticking out of the ocean along Georgia’s coast, the fin probably belongs to a dolphin or a shark.

But which one?

Usually a dolphin’s dorsal fin has a curved tip while a shark’s is more triangular-shaped. Most dolphins have only one fin on their backs, but some sharks have a second smaller dorsal fin close to the tail.

Also, dolphins move their horizontal tails up and down; sharks move their vertical tails side to side. These differences are good to know, especially if you’re swimming in the ocean rather than observing from a boat!


WILD Facts is a regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division.


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