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(Part 1 of 2) Time for a sharks tale about a sharks tail! The tail of a shark, otherwise known as the caudal fin, is heterocercal. This is a structure where the two lobes of the tail are different lengths, with the upper lobe being longer than the lower lobe. The backbone of the shark runs into the upper lobe, which helps give the tail strength, stability, and support for high speeds. ( Crow. et. al, 2002) The orientation of the heterocercal tail provides the shark with thrust right through its center of gravity. By directing the thrust through the center of gravity of the shark, it has a wider range that the thrust can be oriented in, along with an equal balance of forces on the tail. (Thompson, 2016) While the tail of a shark provides thrust, the difference between lobe sizes and shape of the tail determines how much. In a shark that has lobes near the same size, like the mako, the shark has a greater capacity for power and speed. In others species, like the thresher shark, where the upper lobe is a great deal larger than the lower lobe, the tails main function is not for power and speed, but for stunning its prey. In this way, the caudal fin is another aspect of the shark that is differentiated by function. The caudal fin is as unique to the shark as the shark is itself. It is amazing how variations of something as simple as their tail can make such a large impact on the hunting style and survival skills of the shark.
Post by @kberry122
Photo by local UW photographer @creationscape on a recent tour
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Big Ralph is one of Guadalupe's male great white sharks. The island is home to a large population of white sharks during the latter part of the year. During August and September, the shark population consists of mostly males. Females tend to arrive later in the season, with bigger individuals typically being seen in October and November.