Subject: killer whale dorsal fins

Kim Marshall (
Tue, 26 Oct 1999 13:18:26 -0400

Reply:  Dear Mandy,  The condition you are referring to where killer whale
dorsal fins bend over is called "Flaccid-fin syndrome."  It is believed to
be caused by by the circular swimming patterns of captive orcas and/or the
fact that captive orcas spend more time resting at the surface without the
support of moving water - causing their fins to limp over.  It does not
appear to have any bearing on their health from studies done thus far.  To
find out more search the links and information provided throughout
WhaleNet's pages.  Thank you! Kim

Question:  I have a question that has been nagging me for a long time!  I
have seen pictures of orcas where the dorsal fin is laying over.  I believe
this is caused by poor health (if it is something else, please let me
know). My question is, if these animals are better cared for in the future,
will the fin ever recover?  I am also curious as to whether this condition
would adversly affect a whale in the wild, assuming that the fin wouldn't


Kim Marshall-Tilas
Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance
191 Weston Road
Lincoln, MA  01773
(781) 259-0423
fax: 259-0288