What are the different fins on a dolphin used for?

The tail fin, or fluke, is used for propulsion through the water.

The pectoral fins (on each side) provide directional control and the dorsal fin (in those species that have one) provides stability whilst swimming.

Many individuals however have been documented without a “complete set” of fins (likely as a result of incidental entanglement in fishing gear, being hit by a boat’s propeller or a lucky escape from a predator) and therefore they can sometimes adapt quite well to losing part or all of a fin.

Dolphin illustration
Dolphin illustration

More facts about whales and dolphins.