Caring for Stranded Marine Animals
                                              Donate Now!

How Do Whales and Dolphins Swim?

HOW DO WHALES AND DOLPHINS SWIM?

How would you describe the shape of a whale or dolphin? Wouldn’t you say they are very streamlined? Very few appendages (like your arms and legs) stick out to slow the animal down as it swims through the water. A whale’s body is shaped like a submarine, or the body of an airplane.

The smooth, rubbery skin, the lack of hair, and no ears sticking out also contribute to the sleek body designed for speed in the water.

But it takes more than a sleek body to maneuver in the water. Remember, when whales and dolphins are going after their food, they not only swim at the surface, they also dive to great depths. They need rudders and propellers.

Look closely at a whale or dolphin – you’ll see that many have a dorsal fin, the fin that sticks up from the back of the animal. Scientists believe that the dorsal fin acts as a stabilizer or a rudder. You might think that the dorsal fin has bones in it, like the fins on fish. But the whale’s dorsal fin has no bones. Instead, it is made up of dense tissue, somewhat like a ridge of thick, folded skin.

You’ll also see flippers low on the sides of the animals. Those flippers are used for steering, for balancing, and for stopping. But they are not used for moving forward through the water.

Forward motion is created by the whale’s or dolphin’s tail, or flukes, moving up and down in the water. It serves as the propeller. Powerful muscles running along the backbone and sides of the whale’s body move the tail up and down in the water, providing the power that pushes the animal through the water, or deep into the ocean. In fact, one way to remember that whales are not fish is that fish move their bodies sideways when they swim; whales move their bodies up and down.

23 Comments

  1. My Name is Glenda am from Tx,USA. After 12years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr chiefprinst can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to Dr chiefprinst. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr.chiefprinst real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact: Email him at: allmightbazulartemple@gmail.com or
    Dr.clement can also cure all kind of disease with herbal medicine like cure SICKNESS LIKE
    {1}HIV/AIDS
    {2}DIABETES
    {3}EPILEPSY
    {4} BLOOD CANCER
    {5} HPV
    {6} ALS
    {7} HEPATITIS
    {8}LOVE SPELL
    {9} SICKLE AND ANAEMIA..

  2. My Name is Glenda am from Tx,USA. After 12years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr chiefprinst can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to Dr chiefprinst. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr.chiefprinst real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact: Email him at: allmightbazulartemple@gmail.com
    Dr.clement can also cure all kind of disease with herbal medicine likecure SICKNESS LIKE
    {1}HIV/AIDS
    {2}DIABETES
    {3}EPILEPSY
    {4} BLOOD CANCER
    {5} HPV
    {6} ALS
    {7} HEPATITIS
    {8}LOVE SPELL
    {9} SICKLE AND ANAEMIA..

  3. i want to share my testimony of how i become rich and famous today… i was deeply strangled up by poverty and i had no body to help me, and also i search for help from different corners but to no avail… i see people around me getting rich but to me i was so ashamed of my self so i met a man on my way he was very rich and he was a doctor so he told me something and i think over it though out the day so the next day i looked up and i keep repeating what he said to me.”if you want to get rich quick and be famous” you need to cross your heart and do what is in your mind so i tried all i could in other for me to do as he said so later on i told my fellow friend about this same thing then my friend was interested in my suggestions so i decided to look in the internet and i found their number so we decided to contact them and unfortunately we did as they instruct us to do and later they told us to get some requirements and all the rest…so this initiation took us just a week and later on the great fraternity gave us $1,200,000 to start up our lives….and now am testifying that if in any case you want to join any great fraternity all you need to do is for you to contact them because they are legitimate and they do as what they instructed them to do,so you can as well whatsspa +2347051758952
    or you can morganiilluminatirich@gmail.com

  4. Dolphin is a wonderful animal. It is a kind of mammal which lives on water. They are very attractive animal which draws so many interest of the tourist all over the world. Watching them personally gives an honor because it is very rare and very hard to find them without spending enough money. Seeing them means that you are financially capable. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a place near dolphin sanctuary haven.

  5. I never knew that there are factors that are designed to help a dolphin to swim faster in the water —rubbery skin, lack of hair, and no ears sticking out. My son is so interested in how the dolphins swim. He’s fond of watching animated series featuring dolphin shows because he’s amazed at how fast the dolphins can swim. At the moment, I’m looking to find a place that we can visit to watch different dolphin swim and probably try to swim with them too. I will make sure to save your blog for future reference.

  6. Now i whant to be a mirine sinticed.

  7. this is really a some to lean.

  8. Hi Sierra. No, they don’t make walking motions when they swim. They use their pectoral fins for steering, but the fins themselves aren’t very mobile. Thanks for your question!

  9. Since it has been found that whales have finger like bones in their fins, does that mean that the do walking motions as they swim?

  10. That’s a great question! The vertebral column actually extends into the fluke. As to why the “paddle” part of the fluke doesn’t have bones, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. If you find out, please post here! Thanks.

  11. Why do whale flukes not have bones?

  12. Thank you for your comments, Kasha. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises all belong to the same order of mammals called cetaceans. Dolphins and porpoises are part of a suborder of whales called odontocetes, or toothed whales. Broadly speaking, dolphins and porpoises are types of whales. With respect to general shape and swimming ability, all share similar characteristics. Thanks again for your interest.

  13. Thanks for the information, but i think that the whale has nothing to do with the dolphin facts. Of course the whale moves its “Fluke” up and down, but that is not the point. This article is supposed to be about the dolphin resources compared to a fish, not the whale compared to the fish. You either need to take out some of the whale information and put dolphin information in, or you could put this article in with the whale category.

    Someone that has an actual opinion,
    Kasha

  14. Hi Sara.
    Thank you for your interest in dolphins! The nonprofit organization “Whale and Dolphin Conservation” has a lot of great information about these amazing animals. See: http://us.whales.org/whales-and-dolphins.
    Good luck and best wishes!
    Kathy

  15. Hi i want to work at seaworld when i grouw up and i thought you could give me some info about dolphins.(that is the animal i want to work with!)

  16. Thanks for your question! No, whales do not have to stay in motion at all times. In fact, some “sleep” by resting at the surface in a behavior called “logging”. During this time, they move only enough to keep their blowholes above water to breath.

  17. Do whales have to stay in motion at all times, like sharks?

  18. I want to be a marine biologist!!! So this is very helpful for what makes me happy and iterest me!

  19. Interesting………

  20. This is helping me a lot in my work

  21. Thanks, Stephanie, for answering Susan’s question! It does indeed have to do with the evolution of dolphins as mammals.

  22. Hey Susan!

    Cetaceans move their bodies up and down through the water because they are mammals. Look at the way a dog runs. Its spine moves up and down in a fluid motion, which is the same motion a dolphin’s spine makes when it swims. Likewise, you can see how reptiles are more closely related to fish than mammals because they retain the side to side motion that originated in fish. I don’t think it has anything to do with diving as there are many fish that live at great depths.

    Hope this helps you!

  23. Can you please explain why bony fish and cetaceans have a different motion for their tail. If both are used for propulsion why do bony fish have a sideways motion and whales and dolphins use an up and down motion. Does this account for the depths these mammals can reach upon diving?
    Thank you
    Susan

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Black History Month: Get your swirl on but be mindful of distinct flavors | The University Star - […] with our struggles, but instead suggests sometimes it takes more than sympathy. For example, a dolphin swims with its…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *