The Anatomy of a Dolphin

In this post, I would first like to share with you the anatomy of a dolphin – one of things I know best, in English and Chinese.

Here I have Wei to help me with my explanation (:

blog post 2 anatomy Wei

The Melon

This is one of the most important parts of the dolphin in relation to what this blog is about! The Melon is the forehead region of the dolphin, and it is filled with a lot of FAT! The function of the melon is mainly used by the dolphin for echolocation! Stay tuned to my blog for more information about dolphins and echolocation (:

The Rostrum

Say ‘Sashimi’!

The snout like projection, commonly known as the mouth! Dolphins have about 80 to 100 conical shape teeth. They only have one set of teeth, so once a tooth falls out, it won’t grow again. Check out Sihat showing off his beautiful smile (: Sihat was the first dolphin I worked with.

The Pectoral Fins

These are the “hands” that are mainly used for steering left and right under water. These fins are the only fins that have bones inside of them! The Dorsal fin and Tail flukes have no bones.

The Dorsal Fin
Huihui (left) and Shiye (right) are as close as brothers! They are always seen swimming together, playing together, and breathing together at the same time! Can you tell them apart in this picture?

The fin on the back. One of the first things you have to know as a marine mammal specialist, or to know a dolphin, is his or her dorsal fin! All dorsal fins of dolphins ARE ALL DIFFERENT! This is how we differentiate one of them from the other (: outfield marine scientists track wild dolphins by looking at their dorsal fins too! And I must say it is a highly challenging task!

The Tail Flukes

Tail or Fin? The answer is FINS. The tail flukes are actually two fins, individually called a fluke, together, they are called the flukes. Like the Dorsal fin, they contain no bones but only cartilage, soft tissue blood vessels etc.

Fun fact 1: The five fins – they are all used for thermoregulation and they contain many blood vessels inside of them.

The Peduncle

This portion of the dolphin contains the strongest set of muscles a dolphin has! Many mistake the tail as the strongest part of the dolphin, instead of the peduncle. This region is also where the spine of the dolphin is!

Fun fact 2: How to differentiate a shark and a dolphin from a distance?
The swimming motion of dolphins is vertical, up and down. Whereas for a shark, it is horizontal – left and right. So next time you spot something grey moving left and right while swimming in the sea, SWIM AWAY FOR YOUR LIFE!!

More about Wei (first picture):

Wei is the largest dolphin in Dolphin Island, and we nicknamed him “Big Daddy Wei” (: His size matches his personality, and is truly a gentle giant (: Wei really loves his daily rub downs and hugs from us, as you watch him close his eyes and enjoy his massage. Wei is about 120kg and 2.5 metres tall, and is around 15 to 18 years old.

I would continue occasionally posting about more dolphins and their own personality, and also other interesting, and in fact hilarious stories while working with these guys. In the meantime, if you have any questions, regarding anatomy or anything else, feel free to ask me in the comment box (:


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