Shark Dorsal Fin: Types, Shapes, And Functions That You Should Know

Anusuya Mukherjee
Jan 24, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Nov 18, 2021
White shark swimming and looking for prey
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.1 Min

Sharks are fishes belonging to the class Chondrichthyes.

Sharks are elasmobranch fishes and are usually found in open waters of oceans. They are aquatic animals like other fishes and spend all their life in the water.

Sharks are characterized by the presence of sharp teeth and strong jaws. They have a cartilaginous skeleton having five to seven slits of gills located at the side of their head. Sharks have been a source of meat for humans. Often they were caught by fishermen for meat or for shark fin soup. They have teeth embedded directly in their gums.

The size and shape of a shark's teeth depend upon the type of food they consume. Their skeleton is made up of cartilage and connective tissue. Their fins are elongated and supported by ceratotrichia. Sharks commonly have eight fins. Read along to find answers to questions like shark dorsal fin identification near waters, shark dorsal fin size, tiger shark dorsal fin shape, bull shark dorsal fin size, and a lot more. After reading about shark dorsal fin, also check out how many stomachs does a goat has and how many stomachs does a cow has?

Shark Dorsal Fin Shapes

Fins are a part of all aquatic animals. Fins help them to swim quickly with greater agility. In the case of sharks, they have ceratotrichia which is a bunch of cartilaginous rods which help to support the fins in a shark's body. Thus, the shark can swim fast with a greater force. The various types of dorsal fins in a shark are: -

Cranial dorsal fin: Also known as the first dorsal fin is the most common fin associated with sharks. This is the fin that we see in movies cutting through the surface of the water and indicating the presence of a shark. This is present at the back of a shark, at the top. This fin helps the shark to take smart turns.

Second dorsal fin: Located in between the first dorsal fin and tail helps the shark to swim in a steady manner while helping it to maneuver easily the back of its body.

Just talking about a shark Carcharhinus, the caudal fin is located at the end of a fish. The caudal fin provides the power to move a fish forward. The caudal fin is a very basic necessity in fish. The pelvic fins are each of a pair of fins on the underside of a fish's body, attached to the pelvic girdle. The pelvic fins help to control direction while they are swimming.

Shark Dorsal Fin Vs Dolphin

The dorsal fins are not just present in sharks, they are found in other aquatic fishes too like dolphins. However, the dorsal fins in both differ a lot. Let's find out about shark dorsal fin vs dolphin dorsal fin.

In the case of a dolphin, the dorsal fin is curved in a backward way towards the animal's rear end. It forms an arc having a sharp and a pointed tip. However, it too, like a shark's dorsal fin, stands on the back of a dolphin. In the case of sharks, the dorsal fin located at the top of their back is angled in a backward way but the rear end stands straight. Some shark species, like the hammerhead, have rounder fins similar to that of a dolphin. Thus, before you panic that it is a hammerhead shark swimming at the surface of the sea, be sure to read the shape of the dorsal fin properly to come to a proper conclusion.

Great White Shark

How big is the shark dorsal fin?

Sharks are sea creatures that have existed for a long period of time.  Unlike the dinosaurs who went Extinct, these animals have lived their lives in the ocean. Sharks come in various colors and sizes. Sharks have been around for about 400 million years on Earth however this animal now faces Extinction. They have a varying diet and behave differently.

For example, the Whale sharks, as can be perceived from their name, can grow to be of a huge size of more than 55 ft (16.8 m). While a dwarf shark can be of merely a few inches. As said before, dorsal fins are an important part of sea creatures like sharks. In the case of sharks, it is because of the presence of a dorsal fin we can come to the conclusion that a shark is swimming nearby.

In terms of size, the dorsal fin in adult males is straight in shape and can measure around 5.9 ft (1.8 m) on average. Though, the dorsal fin in young sharks and females is around 3.0 ft (0.9 m) on average and is shaped like a sickle.

A shark has two dorsal fins; the first and the second dorsal fin. The cranial dorsal fin is located on a shark's back and cuts through the water while the second dorsal fin of a shark stands between the cranial dorsal fin and the tail. It helps the shark to roll and swim steadily through the rough waters. It is quite big and protrudes from its body.

What is the function of the dorsal fin?

Dorsal fins are found in almost all aquatic animals. Fins form an important part of a shark's body. These carnivorous creatures feed upon other smaller aquatic animals as food. They are quite big in size and have sharp teeth. There are about 1000 species of sharks and in various Bollywood movies, they are seen as blood-thirsty villains. Dorsal fins in sharks play an important function. These fins allow these oceanic predators to cut through the water steadily and roll over when required.

The pectoral fins also play an important role on the body of a shark along with the dorsal fins. Pectoral fin sharks have a pectoral fin located behind the head of each side of its body. The pectoral fin helps the sharks to steer their body during swimming and also assist with the lift.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for shark dorsal fin then why not take a look at how many teeth do alligators have or shark facts.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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