How Many Fins Do Sharks Have?

Look there! Is it the Great White shark or whale sharks!

See their fins!

The fins are very helpful to recognize the shark’s species within a second!

Though sharks belong to the group of cartilaginous fishes, there are a lot of rumours about whether they possess fins like fishes or not! Sharks like other fishes have different pairs of fins but not all sharks have the same types of fins.

The sharks have evolved their fins about millions of years ago and continue to change with the passage of time. The main purpose of fins is to provide stability to the shark’s body and prevent them from sinking while swimming. So to understand more about the different types of shark fins.

We have explained the different types of fins, so that you can easily understand! Let’s move on!

Why Sharks have Fins

All species of sharks have fins, the fins play a vital role in the daily routine of the sharks. The fins help them to steer throughout the ocean, provides them stability while swimming, provides buoyancy to the heavy body of sharks so that they do not sink at the bottom, assist them to grab the prey and to escape from the predator. Fins are the important part of the shark’s body, each pair of fins have different structures and have a significant role.

What do Shark Fins Look Like?

The fins of sharks are long and tough that are attached to the body with the support of cartilaginous rods that are extended deep into the skeletal of the sharks. The rods are called ceratotrichia which provides rigidity and strength to the fins so that sharks can swim at high speed in the ocean water! Agile creature!

How Many Pairs of Fins Do Sharks Own?

Many people are interested to know the number of fins sharks possess – The answer is 8 fins! Yes! Sharks possess 6 to 8 fins depending upon the type of sharks but in general sharks have 6 fins, these are pectoral fins, pelvic fins, first dorsal fin, second dorsal fin, caudal fin and anal fin. The second dorsal fins and anal fins are not present in all the species of sharks.

Moving on to understand the function of the shark’s fins!

Types and Functions of Fins

All sharks bear different types of fins that help them to swim with agility throughout the extended ocean waters. Let’s study their functions in detail:

Pectoral Fins

The fins are the largest fins on the body of sharks, the pectoral fins of sharks are named as the wings of sharks! The pectoral fins are located along with the pectoral muscles line on both sides of the streamlined body. The pair of fins help them to keep the balance and to move in the forward direction. Moreover, the fins also help them in swimming in the upward and downward direction, make sharp turns and to roll swiftly in the ocean water.

First Dorsal Fin

The first dorsal fins are also named as “cranial dorsal fins” that are located at the back of sharks body. The pair of fins are bound with the elastic and sturdy dorsal fibres which provides stability to sharks and helps them to roll and make sharp turns when travelling with a high speed in the ocean.

Second Dorsal Fin

These are small sized fins located on the back but in between the first dorsal fin and tail. The second dorsal fins function the same as the first dorsal fins, providing stability and agility to the sharks. The only difference between first and second dorsal fins is the size – first dorsal fins are larger in size than second dorsal fins.

Pelvic Fins

The pelvic fins are also known as ventral fins that are located beneath the body of sharks, the fins are located in between the pectoral fins and tail, they help the sharks to move in the upward and downward direction just like the pectoral fins.

Anal Fin

Anal fins are not common in all the species of sharks, the pair of fins are smaller in size and similar to dorsal fins in shape. The anal fins provide stability to the sharks, the fins are located between the tail and pelvic fins on the underside of the body. The Green land sharks, Lantern sharks and the Sleeper sharks are known to have anal fins.

Caudal fin

The caudal fins are commonly known as tail fins located right on the top of the tail. This pair of fins helps the sharks to move in the forward direction and control the speed of sharks while swimming. Species of sharks such as Tiger sharks, Thresher sharks and Mako sharks used the pair of fins to defend themselves from enemies and to catch and kill the prey by hitting it hard with the tail.

What if Sharks Lack Fins?

The sharks will die if their fins are removed! Human detached shark’s fins to make soups, the sharks are then dumped back into the ocean to live a dreadful life, the sharks die due to suffocation, excess of blood loss and become prey to other predators because they are no more able to swim and escape. Many countries have banned finning and other human activities to keep sharks safe from extinction.

Final Thoughts

Sharks are the water loving creatures that live in the oceans, most of the time they remain active and travel in the ocean water. Depending upon the type of sharks, there are 6 to 8 pairs of fins present on the shark’s body which provide support and help them to swim at high speed, roll, make sharp turns and keep them stable while swimming.

It is very important to know that sharks have been exploited for a long time. The shark finning results in the loss of a great number of sharks from the ocean. Thus it is recommended to completely ban the finning process all over the globe!

About the author


I am a Scholar and a dedicated content writer. I am on a mission to stamp out the importance of one of the ocean's most fascinating and remarkable creatures, the sharks, and to let people know about their role in keeping the ecosystem in equilibrium.