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In this photo, you can see how Sharky the dolphin’s dorsal fin is so full of chips and missing pieces that it looks like it was bitten by a shark (although in this area the water is very shallow, even far offshore, so there are not many large sharks that swim in those waters, pointing to that idea being unlikely). It is these nicks and notches that allow us to tell individual dolphins apart – no two bottlenose dolphins have the same dorsal fin shape or the same pattern of nicks and notches. However, the dolphins in Inkfish bay have little to worry about when it comes to predators, so many of the Inkfish Bay dolphins’ fins are nick-less and notch-less. Despite this fact, I have learned to recognize the shapes of many of the dolphins’ fins – a crucial skill to learn while working with dolphins in the field.


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