What are the facts about rake marks on whales and dolphins?

Dr. Christopher Dold, the head veterinarian at SeaWorld, explains that all toothed whales and dolphins rake each other and rake marks are common with whales - both in the wild and in a marine facility.


Just as with killer whales or orcas in the wild, our whales grow and learn through play behaviors and interactions with other members of their pod. It is normal activity found in all healthy wild and zoological social groups. Scrapes, rakes and other superficial abrasions* are all part of normal killer whale activity. Orcas at SeaWorld continue to receive the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science and zoological best practices.

*Resident and transient whales typically show extensive rake marks on their dorsal fins and body made by the conical-shaped teeth of conspecifics. (Ford et al. 1992, Black et al. 1997, Dahlheim et al. 1997).