Wondering Why?

Why do killer whales’ dorsal fins bend?

Killer whales are popular because many of them are seen along with dolphins and seals in various shows from preservation complexes.  With their popularity, many people have noticed that these animals’ dorsal fins are bent or collapsed to one side.  Some experts also point out that the bent dorsal fins in killer whales are only evident on the captive ones and not on the wild ones.  Various theories have evolved to explain this concern, and scientists are unable to pinpoint the main reason for this occurrence.  The best thing about this concern, though, is that scientists know for a fact that the orientation of the killer whales’ dorsal fins is not an indicator of their overall health.

The dorsal fins in killer whales are expected to be erect and harden at around their adolescent years.  This is not the case, though, with captive killer whales. One theory or reason is that the cartilage that is responsible for the dorsal fin’s orientation may have undergone some changes because of exposure to different stresses in captivity.  For one, there is not much water pressure to make the dorsal fins straighten up because of the limited water space given to killer whales in captivity.  As some people would argue, these killer whales would have the luxury of swimming in the open sea if they are not held captive.  With their free activity, there will also be enough water pressure to help maintain a straightened dorsal fin.  In the case of captive whales, there is not much space to move around, and so the development of their dorsal fins is affected therefore causing them to bend.

Some experts also believe that the captive whales’ diet may also affect the development of the cartilage in their dorsal fins.  Some people also blame the activities of the killer whales while held in activity.  Some say there is too much exposure to the surface because of the shows they are involved in.  With too much heat on the killer whales’ dorsal fins, there is the tendency for the cartilage to overheat, and this may be the cause of their bending to one side.

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