Fins: do all whales have them?

From: Erich Hoyt (
Date: Wed Apr 04 2001 - 23:22:12 EDT

>From: Katie Taft <>
>Subject: whales
>Date: Wed, Apr 4, 2001, 8:46 AM

> Hello, my name is Katie Taft and I am a middle school art teacher. One of my
> students recently asked me is all whales have fins. I have been searching
> and searching for information that I can pass along to this students but
> have not been able to come up with any answer to give them. I would greatly
> appreciate it if you could answer the question, "Do all whales have fins?"
> and if there are some whales that don't have fins which ones are they.
> Thank you for your time and efforts
> Kate

Dear Katie,

ALL of the some 83 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have two
pectoral fins, also called flippers, and tail flukes, sometimes though not
often referred to as "tail fins".

The most visible fin to whale watchers -- namely the dorsal fin -- is found
on most species, EXCEPT for the following:

right whales
bowhead whales
gray whales (have a low hump instead of a dorsal fin)
finless porpoises
northern right whale dolphins
southern right whale dolphins

the Ganges river dolphin, the Indus river dolphin, & the Amazon River
dolphin have low dorsal ridges which are pretty close to dorsal fins.

A number of other whales and dolphins have very reduced dorsal fins like the
sperm whale.

Hope this helps...

best regards,

Erich Hoyt

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