Posted by: orcaweb | June 8, 2010

The challenge: Do you know the difference between a shark and a dolphin?

During my shift I have learnt that a lot of people don’t know the difference between sharks and dolphins. In the Orca wildlife centre we have a game where you have to distinguish the difference between whales and fish.

Firstly whales, dolphins and porpoises  (cetaceans) are all marine mammals, so they are more closely related to humans than they are to fish.  Sharks are fish too, known as elasmobranches as they don’t have bones like boney fish, formally known as teleost, they have cartilage instead just like what our ears are made from.

To myself it is common knowledge, however I have studied Marine biology, and forget that some people don’t have any experience in this topic.

Many years ago people thought cetacean were fish, however due to research and studying these magnificent animals, it is now known that they are mammals and that they need air like we do, they are warm blooded like we are, give birth to live young and feed their young with milk like we do.

Fish however don’t breathe air like we do, they take in oxygen through the gills from the water, they are cold blooded and most of them will lay eggs, with no parental care.

Over the past week I have been filming passengers to take the challenge and I have come to the conclusion that children are more educated than adults, which is really interesting. Perhaps they learn it in school or it has become a major topic of interest for them. This is very positive as they are our future, so if children today are interested in marine life, then perhaps the life of our seas will have better hope.

This will be continued throughout the summer.

Steph Barnicoat

Orca wildlife officer


  1. If you really want to see the difference between whales and sharks, view:

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