Harbor Porpoise
Phocoena phocoena


Other Names: Common Porpoise, Puffing Pig

Habitat: Inshore

Status: Locally common

Population: Unknown

Threats: Pollution, habitat destruction, human disturbance, entanglement in fishing nets, and hunting/whaling

Group Size: 2-5, several hundred at good feeding grounds (rare)

Fin Position: Slightly behind center

Newborns: 26-34 in (67-85 cm0, 11 lbs. (5 kg)

Adults: 4 -6 ft (1.4-1.9 m), 125-145 lbs. (55-65 kg)

Diet: Fish, and occasionally squid or octopus and krill or other crustaceans

Teeth: 44-56 on top row, 42-52 on bottom row


Description

Dorsal Fin:

- longer leading edge may have small bumps
- blunt tip
- concave trailing edge
- broad base

Flukes:

- slightly concave trailing edges
- slight notch in middle
- flukes dark on both sides
- flukes rarely raised above surface when diving

Flippers:

- small, dark, slightly rounded flippers located in white body area
- leading edges of flippers may have small bumps

Head:

- 1-3 stripes from jawline to flippers
- black "lips" and chin
- straight mouth line angled slightly upward

Calves:

- duller in color than adult
- birth lines (visible in first few hours)
- no bumps on dorsal fin

Other characteristics:

- body color merges from dark to light through flecking
- black or dark gray back
- small, robust body tapers to tail
- asymmetrical pigmentation on both sides
- white belly
- white or gray zone on lower sides


Behavior

- while feeding, rises for breath at 10- to 20-second intervals, about 4 times in a row, then dives for 2 to 6 minutes
- while traveling, surfaces up to 8 times at 1-minute intervals
- sometimes makes arc-shaped leaps when chasing prey
- may be long periods of inactivity when rests at the surface
- may roll to reveal flashes of white


Distribution

- cold temperate and subarctic waters of the northern hemisphere
- found in coastal waters, with most sightings within 6 miles (10 km) of land
- likes cool water and frequents relatively shallow bays, estuaries, and tidal channels under about 655 ft (200 m) in depth
- will swim a considerable distance upriver
- some seasonal movements (related to food availability) occur: mostly inshore in summer and offshore in winter, but sometimes north in summer and south in winter
- in some areas, populations are present year-round
- Black Sea, North Atlantic, and North Pacific populations are semi-isolated and have been proposed as separate subspecies
- some populations have become rarer in the past few decades



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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet