Shark Body Parts

The Body Parts of a Shark Explained in Detail

To understand the king of the ocean, you'd have to know everything about its anatomy and way of life. Let's take a look here at the shark body parts that make up the deadliest of fish in the ocean...
BiologyWise Staff
Last Updated: Mar 7, 2018
Sharks are an extremely dangerous kind of fish, with a lot of people encountering its fierce and powerful self. This creature ranges in sizes covering different kinds of sharks that swim the oceans of the world. The great white shark is known for its damage caused and mammoth structure. And many of the beaches worldwide are closed off to tourists, swimmers and surfers for fear of them being attacked by sharks.

When I first saw a shark, it was in a ginormous aquarium that was built with double glassed layers to hold within it not just sharks but huge tortoises. Divers would drop down from above the aquarium, and feed the sharks huge chunks of meat, while other creatures swam by without being intimidated by the presence of so many bloodthirsty sharks. It was impressive and scary all at once, since all I could concentrate on was imagining the glass crack from all that sheer force and weight.

A shark is no doubt an extraordinary animal to witness, with its razor-sharp teeth and merciless black eyes like abysses that lead to nowhere. Here we look at the shark body parts that form and merge as one to piece together this great creature.

Body Parts of a Shark

We're all familiar with the shark's dorsal fin that peaks above the water as it slices through towards a helpless victim or prey. The movie 'JAWS' gave the whole world enough of the jitters to set our skins crawling and thinking twice before setting foot into the sea again. Look into the great white shark anatomy mentioned here for further reading. Let's take a look at what other parts of the shark come into play while understanding its anatomy.

Dorsal Fin
The dorsal fin is the infamous protruding cartilage that sits atop the shark's smooth surface. Triangular in shape and rigid in its texture, this fin can spark fear and is a way of warning those around of an approaching shark or one that is in the surrounding area. There are two other kinds of fins on a shark that not all breeds have. The other two being the second dorsal fin and the anal fin. The former kind of fin is placed lower from the main dorsal fin and is much smaller in size as compared to the first. It falls along the sloping bottom just before the tail begins a couple of inches away. The anal fin falls directly under the second dorsal fin along the bottom of the shark's underbelly towards the end.

Gill Openings
These slit like openings fall along the sides of the sharks powerful jaws. Most sharks have five openings, but some come with a set of about six to seven of these.

Eyes
Dark and sinister, a shark's eyes are black and prominent on its majestic head. When a shark lungs forward towards its prey, a protective layer slides forward in front of its eyes called the niotating membrane. This happens just before it attacks its target.

Spiracle
This sensory organ is what sharks use to navigate the deep depths of the ocean to find their daily meals. It signals the presence of other aquatic creatures or humans, leading the shark to then pose for the kill.

Mouth
Upon observing the insid of a shark's mouth, you'll find that there is a fleshy gum like covering that conceals a row of well hidden teeth. When a shark loses its teeth which it does on several occasions, it is immediately replaced by one of these. The rows of teeth make it easy for the shark to grip onto its victim while keeping a strong hold on its prey without letting it loose. The teeth are pointed inwards, making it perfect for a death hold.

Snout
Sharks have either flattened or pointed snouts depending on its breed. Their sense of smell is strong, and acts as a second sensory organ like the spiracle.

Pectoral Fins
There are two of these long angular fins on either side of the shark. It helps keep it leveled in the depths of the ocean, while also giving the shark direction. Due to the absence of an air bladder, which keeps fish afloat, a shark has to use its pectoral fins from not sinking to the bottom. It uses this though to its advantage since it can change and shift directions swiftly.

Pelvic Fins
A shark has two of these as well, where its excretion exits from a little opening between these on the underside. These fins are positioned on either side towards the bottom of the shark's body.

Caudal Fin
These help a shark in swimming smoothly and basically forms the tail portion of the shark. Some sharks do not have these lobes, or have a very small portion of this towards their tail ends.

Subterminal Notch
The tip of the shark where the last fin meets in an outward peak, is what this body part is. These can either be small in size or quite prominent on some breeds.

A shark is an aquatic species that anyone would be intrigued to know more about. The shark body parts mentioned here will give you an idea of what a shark looks like, and what parts make up its entire build.
Close-up of a Black tip reef shark's caudal fin
Large gray shark isolated
Angular rough shark
Swimming With Jaws
Shark Feeding