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Dolphin Anatomy

Dolphin Anatomy

Anatomy of a Dolphin

Dorsal Fin

The Dorsal Fin is located on the back of many marine animals. The purpose of the dorsal fin is to stabilize the animal against rolling and to assist with sudden turns. The dorsal fin can vary in size and shape in different dolphin species. Dorsal fins are absent on Northern and Southern Rightwhale Dolphins, and some river dolphin's dorsal fins are not prominent protrusions, but more like bumps on their backs.


A blowhole is located in the top of a the head of a cetacean, that allows the animal to breathe in air. The blowhole is opened by muscles upon surfacing and closed by the pressure of water upon diving. Dolphins can have one or two blowholes.


A dolphin's forehead is known as their melon. The melon houses has small air sacs, which are used to produce click vibrations and vocalization sounds for echolocation and communications.


The term rostrum comes from the latin word, meaning beak. The rostrum is sensitive to touch, and used by dolphins to feel objects and for touch during social interactions.

Pectoral Fins

All cetaceans have developed pectoral fins or flippers. Dolphins have well-developed pectoral fins. The pectoral fins are made of a combination of cartilage and bone. The pectoral fins vary widely in shape, and from one species of dolphin to another. The pectoral fins are used for steering and stopping.


A dolphin's fluke is his back tail. The fluke is used for propulsion to propell the dolphin forward through the water.


The peduncle is behind the dorsal fin. The peduncle is very muscular and generates the dolphins significant power, that allows them to propel through the water at top speeds.

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