Subject: Swimming

Courtney Stirling Casey (
Thu, 18 Jun 1998 07:04:56 -0400 (EDT)

	Whales do in fact have fins. Most have small dorsal fins, that
help keep the whale on an even keel, and pectoral fins that help to steer
the whale. However, the forward motion during swimming is generated from
the large fluke, or tail. The whale raises and lowers its tail. Moving the
tail against the water in this motion creates forward momentum. It is
similar to if you got into a swimming pool, with your arms tucked by your
side, and moved both your legs up and down (together) - kind of like the
butterfly stroke in swimming. If you tried this you would find that you
needed to bend your legs a little in the up-down motion to get moving
forward. Similarly, the tail and fluke of the whale bends some so does not
hit the water flat, but at an angle - generating push away fom that
point. Does that make sense?


Coutney Stirling Casey
Department of Animal and Avian Sciences
University of Maryland, College Park.