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Dorsal Fin, Flipper, Fluke
What are flippers and flukes?
The front limbs on a dolphin are called flippers. The bones inside the flippers are similar to the bones inside your arm and hand. Bone and Cartilage Dolphins don't have any hind limbs. The dolphin's tail is called its flukes (each half is a fluke). There are no bones in a dolphin's flukes, just tough connective tissue. The dolphin uses its flukes for swimming and its flippers for steering. Most dolphins have a boneless dorsal fin in the middle of their back that works somewhat like the rudder on a boat. Like the flukes, the dorsal fin does not contain any bones.

Are all dolphins the same color?
Dolphin body color is highly variable. Some, like the killer whale, are strikingly black and white. Other dolphins — like the pilot and false killer whales — are almost solid black. The bottlenose dolphin is usually some shade of gray, but it is much lighter on its belly than on its back. This kind of coloring may help camouflage dolphins in the water. Looking down on them, the dark colors blend in with the ocean. Looking up from underneath, the patches of light and dark skin blend in with the sunlight coming through the water.

How big do dolphins grow?
The biggest dolphin is the killer whale. Killer whale calves are about 8 feet long at birth and can grow to over 20 feet long. Bottlenose dolphins are about 3 1/2 feet long at birth and grow to 8 or 9 feet long.

Size Diagram Adult Dolphin





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