Do Sharks Have Fins: What, Types, How Many, Several Facts


Do Sharks Have Fins: What, Types, How Many, Several Facts

There is a lot of speculation regarding sharks and whether they have fins like fishes or not. Let us explore more on this topic.

Sharks, like fishes and cetaceans, have fins. These fins stabilize the shark and help it stay afloat in the water as well as move forward. Without their fins, sharks won’t be able to glide through water or hunt for their potential prey. Therefore, fins play a crucial role in facilitating the shark’s movement.

Some of the most commonly asked questions about shark fins pertains to their types, function, and quantity. Allow us to answer some of the most frequently asked questions for you.

Image Credits: “Shark Fin” by gbsngrhm is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Do all sharks have fins?

Sharks have a very interesting anatomical structure, which many people don’t know about. Let’s figure out if all sharks have fins.

All sharks have fins, just like fishes. For those of you who might not know, fins play a crucial role in the shark’s day-to-day life. It helps them effortlessly navigate through the ocean waters and assists them in catching their prey and escaping potential predators. In addition, shark fins have a distinctive appearance.

Of course, sharks have several types of fins, and each type has a unique function which will be discussed in detail as you read on. 

Why do sharks have fins?

You might be curious to know what practical purpose fins might serve for sharks. Without further delay, let us find out.

Sharks have fins to help them lift and guide themselves in the water. Fins are an important part of the shark’s body as it assists them in moving through the water. As we have mentioned earlier, shark fins are of different types, and each has a significant function. For example, pectoral fins help in downward movement.

Shark fins are crucial to the animal’s survival. It helps them move in various directions and effectively hunt for their prey.

How many fins do sharks have?

People are often curious to know how many fins do sharks typically have. Let us address this question for you. 

Generally speaking, sharks have around five to eight fins. This includes a pair of pelvic fins, a pair of pectoral fins, the first dorsal fin, the second dorsal fin, a caudal fin, and an anal fin. However, it is worth mentioning here that not all shark species have an anal fin or the second dorsal fin. 

The fins are located at different places of the shark’s body and each fin type has a unique, distinctive function. Together, they come together to lend efficiency and resilience to the shark. 

Shark fin types

Now that we know how many fins a shark has let us together delve into more details about shark fin types. 

Shark fins are of five types. Out of these, the dorsal fins are the most popular, located on the shark’s back. Then, there are the pectoral fins, which are dubbed as the shark’s “wings.” They are found on either side of the shark’s body, right after the gill slits. We also have the caudal fin, anal fin, and pelvic fins.

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Out of the five varieties of fins, anal and caudal fins are not found in all shark species. The fins of sharks are very similar to fishes in terms of appearance and functionality.

Why do sharks have their fins out of water?

Image Credits: “Shark fins right outside the beach” by Christian Haugen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You might be curious to know why sharks move around with their fins out of water. Let us explore the reasoning behind it. 

Sharks swim with their fins out of water since sticking their fins out and pulling them below the surface can help them drag down bubbles that contain scent particles of potential prey. Besides, sometimes, sharks swim in shallow waters looking for prey, and hence you may spot their fins poking out of water. 

Since sharks already have gills that allow them to breathe in the water, the fins poking out of water pose no danger or threat.

Do sharks have dorsal fins?

As we have mentioned previously, shark varieties in general have five fin types. But, do all shark varieties have dorsal fins? Let’s find out.

Sharks, like fishes, have dorsal fins. The dorsal fins lends stability to the shark’s body. It also prevents them from turning over in water. Some shark varieties like Spiny Dogfish and Port Jackson Shark have harmful substances that coats their dorsal spines and, therefore, protects them from predators, including humans, since it is quite harmful.

The dorsal fins of sharks serve a practical purpose and make them better swimmers. All sharks have at least one dorsal fin.

Why do sharks have fins on their back?

A common question people are always curious to know is why sharks have fins situated on their backs. Let us together explore the reasoning behind this.

Fins are situated on the shark’s back to help them navigate the ocean waters easily. It gives them a sense of stability and allows them to glide through the water surface without rolling over. Besides, fins on the back keep cutting through the water and allow the shark to swim in both shallow and deep waters.

As we have mentioned earlier, it is the dorsal fins that are located at the back of the shark. 

What sharks have two dorsal fins?

Image credits: “Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)” by kris-mikael.krister is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You’d be surprised to know all shark varieties do not have two dorsal fins. Let us learn more about the sharks that possess two dorsal fins.

Different shark varieties have two dorsal fins. Some of them are:

  • Silky Shark
  • Blue Shark
  • Blacktip Shark
  • Lemon Shark
  • Great Hammerhead Shark
  • Leopard Shark
  • Spinner Shark
  • Tiger Shark
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These shark varieties have two dorsal fins that help them glide effortlessly in shallow and deep waters without losing their balance.

Why do sharks need dorsal fins?

While we know the essential function of fins, are you curious to know why dorsal fins are so important for sharks? Let us tell you more about it.

Dorsal fins are important as they lend stability to the shark. Without dorsal fins, sharks would overturn on their backs and won’t be able to cut through the water with ease. In addition, dorsal fins enables the sharks to swim at a higher speed and in a linear direction. Therefore, it becomes crucial in helping them get to their prey.

If a shark loses its dorsal fin, it loses its ability to catch its prey at high speed. Besides, it loses its sense of stability, and its movement may be impaired.

Why do sharks have pectoral fins?

Pectoral fins serve an important function. Allow us to tell you why it would be impossible for the shark to work efficiently without pectoral fins.

The pectoral fins have an elongated shape which prevents the shark from sinking. Therefore, the pectoral fins located behind the shark’s head are designed to provide lift to the animal and steer it in the right direction, be it side to side or up and down.

Thus, pectoral fins are responsible for the direction of the shark and help control its movements. 

Do all sharks have dorsal fins?

Now that you know all about the benefits of dorsal fins let’s figure out if all sharks have dorsal fins or not.

Generally speaking, most sharks have dorsal fins. However, there have been recorded instances where sharks that are known to have two dorsal fins have been found without any. There are other shark species like frilled sharks and sixgill that do not have a dorsal fin at all. 

In the cases of sharks with no dorsal fins, the caudal and posterior fins come in handy and give the shark the required thrust and stability to move forward in the water.

Why do sharks have flippers?

Flippers are flattened limbs used by various aquatic animals like turtles for swimming. Let’s understand why sharks have flippers.

Sharks use their flippers to stabilize themselves in water and for moving forward. Moreover, the flippers also give them the required thrust and lift and keep them stable in deep waters. In addition, sharks can swim long distances through the use of their flippers without exerting much energy.

Animals like whales have two flippers. Several aquatic animals like dolphins, seals, and turtles rely on flippers for movement. 

How many fins do great white sharks have?

Image Credits: “CIMG0142 Great White Shark Near The Boat” by Tim Sheerman-Chase is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Great white sharks are among the most magnificent oceanic animals. Let’s find out how many fins do they have.

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The Great White Sharks have five fins, like most shark varieties. They have a pair of large dorsal fins and pelvic fins along with pectoral fins. They also have a caudal fin and an anal fin. The anal, dorsal, and caudal fins are termed as “median fins”, whereas we call pectoral and pelvic fins “paired fins”.

It is worth mentioning here that the great white sharks lack fin spines. The fins are of massive importance for them as it helps them swim in a straight line.

Do whale sharks have fins?

Image Credits: “Whale Shark” by Mike Johnston is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Whale sharks are characterized by their distinctive whale-like appearance. Let us together explore whether these sharks have fins.

Whale sharks have fins, like most other shark species. They have two dorsal fins situated on their backs, two pelvic fins, two pectoral fins, and an anal fin. Whale sharks are subjected to finning, a practice in which the shark’s fins are removed for commercial use, and they are tossed back into the oceans.

Despite their huge bodies, whale sharks pose no real threat to humans but have become severely endangered, especially with the increase of finning and other commercial activities. 

Do hammerhead sharks have fins?

Image credits: “Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini)” by kris-mikael.krister is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hammerhead sharks are characterized by their unique anatomy. Let us together find out if they have fins.

Hammerhead sharks, like most other shark varieties, have fins. They belong to the Carchariniformes order of sharks, meaning these are ground sharks that have two dorsal fins and one anal fin. It also has pectoral fins, but the great hammerhead shark’s dorsal fins are way longer than their pectoral ones.

The enlarged dorsal fins of the hammerhead sharks make it easier for them to swim quicker and with more efficiency. 


Sharks are glorious oceanic animals with distinctive appearances and unique anatomy. However, it is important to remember that sharks are continually being exploited, and the practice of finning is leading to the death of a large number of sharks across the globe. Therefore, certain measures are being taken to ensure that the species is not put under any threat. Today, several countries have banned finning and other commercial activities, which can put sharks at risk.

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