Shark vs dolphin fins, which one is swimming towards you while you’re out on your surfboard? There are some common characteristics, but on closer inspection you can see some very distinctive differences.
Some claim dolphins are more playful and curious than sharks, so they can get closer. This triggers panic if someone is in the sea and the fin cuts through the water towards the swimmer. Learn how to tell the difference on your next fin encounter.
Shark vs Dolphin Fin | Distinctive Differences
A big difference between Shark vs Dolphin Fins is the leading edge of a shark fin is angled, while the trailing edge is straight. The dorsal fins of the sharks are broad and protrude straight from the back.
A shark fin has a triangular notch at the base of the back that separates the part of the fin from the back.
Depending on the species, sharks can have up to four unpaired fins on their bodies. The second dorsal fin is only visible when the water is under the surface. It is smaller than the first dorsal fin, so you have to look at it more closely to identify it.
The second fin of an animal can be seen like a shark. Sharks also have a high vertical tail that moves from one side to the other.
There is a distinctive difference between the Shark vs Dolphin Fin when it comes to their dorsal fins. Some dolphin species have dorsal fins that are rounded, while sharks have straight edges at the tail end of their dorsal fins.
Shark fins tend to be triangular. The leading edge of the dorsal fin has a small curve, depending on the species, and the back edge of this fin points in the direction of the tail, which is square or flat. Some shark species have rounder fins, such as the hammerhead shark, but it is not easy to see the difference on the beach.
The dorsal fin which breaks through the water’s surface is accompanied by a small tail fin a few meters above sea level, a sure sign of a shark sighting. In sharks, the tail and tail fin break through the surface of the water, and the shark is vertical at both ends.
The ends of the hammerheads’ dorsal fin are, as with dolphins, are rather round than bent or hook-shaped.
The triangular dorsal fin provides enough contrast to be a warning. The tail fin is not visible in small sharks, which are common in beach areas, but is more conspicuous in larger predators such as bull and tiger sharks. The larger the shark fins, the more they are similar in shape and differ from dolphins.
Sharks feed in surf zones and are lonely most of the time. If there are several sharks in an area, they do not tend to swim together.
Sharks tend to swim in one direction in constant motion, so you know they’re not bobbing around like a dolphin playing in a wave. When they move, it could be a giveaway that the dolphin has to break through the surface to breathe.
Sharks, which are in the vicinity, look for food, run and hunt, but they do not move up and down in the water.
When it comes to a Shark vs Dolphin Fin there is a difference in the way dolphins and sharks move through the sea showing their visible fins.
Dolphins and sharks have infinite control over their fins, but their way of moving through the water is very different. Dolphins have a broad horizontal tail as they move. Dolphins dorsal fins have a particular bow and a curved tip.
Dolphins are known to swim in small pods, while sharks are lone hunters. When you see a dolphin, you are more likely to see more than one.
Some have suggested that recent sightings of dorsal fins could have come from manta rays or whales, but experts say that is unlikely. In the sighting of manta rays, two fins protrude from the water parallel to each other, and these fins are much smaller than shark or dolphin fins.
Whales are often spotted on beaches without noticing fins, and it is often their whole body that breaks through the water surface. If it’s a whale, they spray out of their holes, and they tend to be larger.
Shark vs Dolphin Fin | Other Differences
Aside from a Shark vs Dolphin Fin, there are several other differences. Sharks have gills on both sides of their bodies, while dolphins have holes on their heads.
Both dolphins and sharks have a dorsal fin on their backs and two flippers on their sides and tails. Sharks and dolphins also have a so-called counter-shadow on their bellies that illuminates their backs, which is a helpful way to blend in with the marine environment.
The tail fins of sharks are vertical, so they use them when swimming in a lateral motion, whereas the tails of dolphins are horizontal and they use their tails when swimming in an up and down motion.
Dolphins are known to be very vocal and very social. They travel in groups known as pods, megapods, or superpods. These are formed when hundreds or thousands of individuals come together to travel and mate.
Sharks, on the other hand, are lonely and do not make noise like dolphins. Research into their social behaviour is not as well researched as that of dolphins.
Sharks and dolphins are opportunistic food donors. They eat what is available and easy for carnivores to catch. Their menu includes fish, crustaceans, cuttlefish and shrimp. However, the diet of sharks differs, as they eat different sharks, marine mammals and plankton depending on the type of shark.
Dolphins have to live near their surface to breathe air, while sharks spend their entire lives under water known as the open ocean, shallow coastal waters, coral reefs and in some cases rivers.
When you sit on the beach or swim in the sea, you might panic when you see a grey fin on the surface of the water. If you watch it closely, you might have an idea what it is. But if you’re not sure, it’s best to leave it alone and don’t try to swim over to find out.