July 08, 2003

Dolphin or Shark?

Photographer Kurt Jones took an amazing surfing photo of what one can't help but first think is a shark, but what he insists is a dolphin. Click on the thumbnail image to see the full-sized picture at Jones' site. Posted by brian at July 8, 2003 03:58 PM

it definitely looks like a shark. dolphins have curvier bodies and curvier fins.

Posted by: brent at July 14, 2003 07:34 PM

This is definitley NOT a shark. What gives it away is the curved dorsal fin, the very pointed snout, the lack of a second dorsal fin and the shape of the tail. Oh and maybe the fact its riding a wave!

Posted by: suzy at July 17, 2003 03:22 AM

to cold cold for delphins ...i guess

Posted by: surfcrack at July 17, 2003 06:00 AM

Sharks have a straight fin down

Posted by: cdsf at July 22, 2003 08:12 AM

Dolphins have a horizontal tailfin. This has a vertival tailfin, like a shark.

Posted by: Daniel at July 23, 2003 01:32 AM

This is a shark: vertical talifin. Shark dorsal fins do have some curvature. Here the curvature is accentuated because of the water.

Posted by: Nick at July 23, 2003 02:19 PM

I agree with Suzy above. If the body is canted slightly or the tail is flexed, the fin could appear vertical.

Sharks of this size that might be found off Malibu, the Great White, Tiger, Mako, Blue and even Bull sharks have:
- Narrow, assymetrical tail fins that are significantly taller than their dorsal fin.
- Short squat dorsal fins some of which are notched at the base
- A small second dorsal fin just in front of the tail


Posted by: Todd at July 28, 2003 09:34 AM

i dont know if it's a shark or a dolphin .... but if i see something like this close to me someday ... i'll dirt my pants !!

Posted by: pard at July 30, 2003 09:42 PM



Posted by: fernando at July 30, 2003 09:44 PM

It is a dolphin. I thought it was a shark at first, but with the commentary, and additional photos on www.surfshooter.com, it's hard to believe it's a shark. The area just before the tail fin gives it away. But I still wouldn't stick around to find out.

Posted by: Goliath at July 31, 2003 09:08 AM

Somebody fooled me at first but it is definitely a dolphin. The dorsalfin of a shark is rarely that nicely curved. The tailfin is horizontal although it is not so obvious on this picture. If it was vertical it would be as clear as the dorsal fin on the picture. There should be a second dorsal fin as someone mentioned earlier. The pectoral fins are very obvious with sharks and should be seen on the picture whereas with dolfins these are more flexible and are often more under there bodies as on this picture. The pointed snout is also a good indication. If someone can show a clear picture of any kind of shark which has similar proportions I would love to see it.

Dived with some reef sharks in the great barrier reef last week, loved it, I would have loved it if the 'shark' of this picture was there to come and play.

Posted by: nordak at August 1, 2003 07:09 AM

Well it had me going, could you imagine what was going through his head when he seen it?

Posted by: graham at August 4, 2003 02:48 AM

Rather than arguing about the shape of the dorsal fin, you could talk
about how this is done in photoshop...........

Posted by: Buster at August 7, 2003 06:24 AM


Posted by: exlex at August 10, 2003 07:09 PM

I recently saw a dorsal fin coast by my side while surfing in long beach N.Y. It was black and curved it was not a good feeling , thanks to this picture and comments i feel better.

Posted by: anthony at August 17, 2003 02:41 PM

I tell you what. I crapped my jocks just looking at this photo!!! What about the poor guy actually surfing. Better go now, have to do a load of washing.

Posted by: simon buchanan at August 17, 2003 06:20 PM

Its obviously a dolphin ! Why ? Let me tell you why....Because sharks have a vertical tail and dolphins have a horizontal tail ! If you take a close look to that pic youre gonna see that its obviously a dolphin ! Im right ! Im a genius! LOL =P

Posted by: Daniel at August 27, 2003 10:30 AM

I tend to agree with Buster, looks far to clear in shape to be much but a doctored photo. Must admit it still chills the spine. Also must admit having had some dolphin surface rather close to myself and a friend some years back, any dorsel fin will dirt your wetsuit.

Posted by: Chas at September 5, 2003 07:09 PM

it's NOT doctored.
it's real.

Plain and simple.....

Kurt Jones

Posted by: Kurt at September 9, 2003 09:45 PM

This could very well be a mix breed of a dolfin and shark mix because this animal has certain features of both. You should check into finding a profesional opinion though.

Posted by: Krissy at September 27, 2003 09:36 AM

This is no shark. On the picture if you go to the home page and enter the site you get more photos of this "creature" as you call it. He said it is a dolphin and that everyone here is just putting what they think. That doesn't make it reality. I looked and the dolphin one looks exactly like it. So no more rumors. It's a dolphin. You don't believe me go here and scroll all the way down, http://www.surfshooter.com/DolphinInfo.html

Posted by: kyrstie at September 27, 2003 09:44 AM

I know this is a dolphin, but I would like to know the size of the dolphin. From looking at the picture, it looks extraordinarily large. I would have to guess anywhere from at least 12 to 16 feet, maybe even 18 feet long. Also, what happened after the wave crashed? Did the dolphin turn back and then ride in again. And finally, sharks do ride waves, and there have even been reports of sharks beaching themselves. But the picture clearly shows a dolphin, NOT a shark.

Posted by: Mike D. at November 27, 2003 05:22 PM

Definitely a dolphin, a big one. I've surfed with both sharks and dolphins and this one doesn't bite.

Posted by: Bryan Horsley at December 1, 2003 02:16 PM

You jerks, I searched for 5 minutes and found the info whether it's a shark or not

IT IS A DOLPHIN STUPID JERKS: http://www.surfshooter.com/DolphinInfo.html

Posted by: Bill at December 6, 2003 10:16 AM

What would you think it was if you were on that. Surf Board. That'll answer the question as to what is in the wave.

Posted by: Russell at December 8, 2003 08:40 AM

this is a Dolphin! it has a horizontal tail fin! Anyone who thinks that is a shark doesn't have a clue.

Posted by: curtis at December 10, 2003 06:13 PM

Everyone must agree that if you saw that thing in the wave, you would be pissing your wetsuit!! As if you would spend the time bantering whether or not it had asymmetrical fins, curvature of the dorsal, etc!

Posted by: mike at December 11, 2003 07:36 AM

So we have been discussing it. It IS a dolphin. All the fin crap is obvious to lead to dolphin. Don't care how big it is, water always magnifies things.

Posted by: Morgan & Chels at December 11, 2003 01:08 PM

It's a GIGANTIC sea monster!

Posted by: Brendan at December 21, 2003 10:41 AM

orca? its certainly big enough

Posted by: ruethewhirl at January 2, 2004 12:25 PM

Dolphin it is. Just for the record, the worst characterization was that it was a cross between a dolphin and a shark.
Advanced mammals do not mate with primitive fish. We are far more closely related to dolphins than sharks are. Sharks and dolphins are more closely related to earthworms than each other, despite similar morphology.
By the way Kurt, excellent photography.

Posted by: James at January 7, 2004 09:50 PM

id rather believe its a shark..thats just more exciting. ever since i saw this pic ive been in awe of it so ive done some reading from everyones opinions and i still think it could be a shark. but, theres good points for both sides. i dont think it really matters--its a great photo either way and i just love it. great job kurt!

Posted by: L.J. at January 21, 2004 06:59 PM

I swam with a bottlenose solo dolphin in the south of France from 1987 to 1994 so I can tell a dolphin from a shark and this is definitely a dolphin. A big one, but still one. Male bottle nose dolphins can be over 4 metres long.

Kurt I am so sorry so many people think they know anything about dolphins and sharks but obviously don't.

Posted by: Faby at February 7, 2004 06:32 AM

That's a definetly mind blowing picture, Don't believe its a dolphin. dolphins snouts are more curved. Could be graphically done. Looks pretty lajit. The issue on the fins that every genius talks about is boloks. At the end of it all, thats a pointy tip and sharks fins do decline with age and mood. But if Mr Jones says its a dolphin i guess it was, he did have the best seat in the sea. Cheers!!! (Faby the wannabe)

Posted by: Bruce at February 13, 2004 02:58 AM

I don't know how it can look like a dolphin, having it be a SHARK!!! THERE ARE DIFFERENT SPECIES OF SHARK OUT THERE, NOT JUST THE GREAT WHITE, THAT I'M SURE EVERYONE IS THINKING ABOUT! IT COULD BE ANY TYPE OF SHARK. But with it's FLAT tail going up and down in stead of left to right.... It's definetly a shark.

Posted by: Ashley at February 19, 2004 09:41 PM

Why is anyone still arguing about this; the photographer plus several other good sources on the web have made quite clear IT'S A DOLPHIN! There is no longer a debate here, guys!

That said, I loved the suggestion that it might be a dolphin x shark hybrid! I nearly pissed myself laughing!

Posted by: Max Wurr at March 4, 2004 03:03 AM

i agree with simon wheather shark or not the photo is pretty scary if it was a shark i probally would of died but the fact is if its a dolphine its got a pretty long figure :P

Posted by: dont care! at March 18, 2004 09:15 AM

its a shark look at the nose to pointy for a dolphin

Posted by: chris at March 22, 2004 06:37 AM

you idiots!

thats the shark that ate me....

of course its a shark u surfer bums...

Posted by: stfu at March 22, 2004 06:16 PM

i think it's a dolphin because the back fin is flat and you would most likely see a dolphin surfing in a wave then a shark

Posted by: Jacob at April 8, 2004 09:01 AM

Shark or dolphin, I'm having trouble believing this is an unenhanced photo.

Posted by: Skip at April 22, 2004 08:53 AM

By the way, it's unquestionably a dolphin. I found more info at the following site, which to me makes it far more believable. My apologies to the photographer - it's a great shot.


Posted by: Skip at April 22, 2004 08:59 AM

for all those amazed by the size of this doplhin
i have to tell you that i have seen bigger dolphins.
when i took the cruise ship from Morocco(tangiers) to (Spain) I was 11 years old and saw these huge dolphins. couldnt believe my eyes!!! they were like 5 meters long! and they had a dark brown-grey colour. amazing isnt it!

Posted by: Assia the traveller at April 26, 2004 09:38 PM

guys guys guys this is obviously a sea monkey whew

Posted by: i'm too smart at May 30, 2004 01:27 PM

I think it's Osama bin Laden in a shark outfit, trying to terrorize innocent surfers :-)

Posted by: orion at June 19, 2004 09:19 AM

SHUT_UP!!!!! SHUT_UP!!!!! It's a frickin' Dolphin okay? You don't see any frickin' lasers on its frickin head do you? The next moron who says it's a frickin shark is going to be blown to bits by my giant moron-seeking tractor-beam of light stationed 400 kilometers above the Euphrates River.
Throw me a frickin bone here people...

- D.Evil -

Posted by: Dr. Evil at July 12, 2004 12:59 PM

What's the matter with you people?! Don't you watch X-Files??? This is obviously a dolphin/alien hybrid created by the US Government to ensure total control over all sea life.

There. That wasn't so hard, was it?

BTW, kudos to you Kurt for taking an awesome photo!!!

Posted by: Fox Maulder at July 30, 2004 01:41 PM

You people make me laugh. Some of you are particularly stupid. This is a damn dolphin. And I think Suzy is a legend for being the first to point this out. Even so, the excitement of the photo is not lost. Dolphins have been known to attack humans before. Rarely, admittedly, but male dolphins in heat can sometimes mistake a male human in the water as a threat. I should know, I am God afterall. Bless you, my children.

Posted by: God at August 4, 2004 09:16 PM

Great photo. A friend and I kayak in Malibu - I've seen dolphins riding the waves many times. It's not as freaky when you're there because you see more than just the shadowy glimpse this photo captures and the way they move in the water is very distinctive. It's actually very cool. Love the picture though.

Posted by: Joe at August 5, 2004 11:52 AM

??? Has anone thought about the possibility of this be something completely differnt like a giant fish eg. a very large salmon??? Hello! I think I know what I'm talking bout, I HAVE been to aquariums. I go like almost every six months. It's either a giant salmon or perhaps a person dressed as a shark! THere! Has anyone thought of THAT??? I think we all know the truth here.

Posted by: little nelly at August 14, 2004 12:34 AM

You are all so stupid!!! Ahem - School of fish in the shape of a dolphin!!!

Posted by: Tina at August 14, 2004 12:36 AM

Je suis en peu paressuse. Malheursement je suis en fille unique. Quequelfois je joue le tennis avec mes copines. "Tu es nulle!" chantont Jacques.

Posted by: Warren at August 23, 2004 06:50 PM

Who cares if it is a dolfin its a get photo

Posted by: TOM at September 16, 2004 09:09 AM

It's obvious that this dolphin ate a shark....how else would it get soo big ? I regulalry surf with sharks and would much rather take a risk with them rather than dolphins, who are interfering, clicking pestering beasties.

Posted by: Gee at October 1, 2004 01:53 AM

Talking of eating things. What's everyone's favourit - dolphin or shark?

I prefer dolphin.... BBQ'd

Posted by: Snorkel at October 1, 2004 02:01 AM

Talking of eating things. What's everyone's favourite - dolphin or shark?

I prefer dolphin.... BBQ'd

Posted by: Snorkel at October 1, 2004 02:01 AM

Question is though.....

Is this simply an otter or rarely spotted seahappychipmonk ?


Please let me have your thoughts

Posted by: timmeh at October 1, 2004 07:46 AM

Wow Timmeh - fishing from a helicopter with human bait. If you use bigger bait do you get bigger sharks? If you do I can see some prime bait walking around from where I am sitting at the moment ;)

Posted by: Snorkel at October 1, 2004 08:03 AM

I agree about the dirting my pants thing i most definatley would soil my jock if i saw this thing, maybe even choclatize my favorite underwear...

Posted by: Dick Butthead at October 25, 2004 10:47 PM

Dude i dont care if it was a shark or a dolphin i would dirt all over it and then go back to land and dirt all in my pants and then jump in the shower to clean off and dirt again. Man this picture was so scary that im dirtin right now

Posted by: Tom McAndrew at October 25, 2004 10:48 PM

I agree about the dirting my pants thing i most definatley would soil my jock if i saw this thing, maybe even choclatize my favorite underwear...

Posted by: Dick Butthead at October 25, 2004 10:48 PM

yea i agree tom i woulod make that thing eat my dirt then id eat his dirt while i was dirtin my swim trunks then id dirt my way back to the beach, run to my room while i was dirtin and then dirt in the toilet.......if i ahd any dirt left..

Posted by: Karl Baker at October 25, 2004 10:51 PM

Yea Right anyone that thinks this is a shark or a dolphin your all wrong and a bunch of dumb dirts.....i can tell u exactly what it is....somebody left a floater out there.......that dirt is huge..........

Posted by: steele at October 25, 2004 10:55 PM

It's a goddamn dolphin! This same picture was in ESPN The Magazine a couple years ago.

Posted by: Joey at November 2, 2004 12:15 PM

LoL... please, more people post without reading any of the comments.

I enjoy how people bash one another on the first ambiguous photograph, then proceed to bash one another because they happen to have seen the site showing the second frame. Congrats, you're all excellent at being stereotypical jerkoff Americans.

Amazing photo nonetheless. It holds the obvious realm of mystery and suspense... because you don't really know when you first see it. It's exciting. And even when you figure out it's a dolphin, it's still a fantastic picture. Bravo.

What's sad is that MSN hosted this picture on "This Week in Pictures" and actually labeled it "shark5.jpg." They should really do their research first... would think it would have come up when asking for permission to post it. Oh well.


The best part: this started July 08, 2003

Posted by: Justin at November 7, 2004 09:16 PM

that was a really scary photo but i think it is a dolfin at first i thought it was a shark but the tail {fin} is flat. shark tails{fin} are up and down. but you whant to know what i really think. its a really big minnow. i let one of mine go at the ocean and i think thats it. the salt water made it grow really big. that surfer will sure be happy to know that. :-)

Posted by: Savannah at November 15, 2004 12:10 PM

brianstorms is Brian Dear's weblog. Non-spam email:

Be sure to take a look at these other fine websites:

Copyright 2002-2003 Birdrock Ventures. brianstorms is a trademark of Birdrock Ventures.