Phocoenidae

Cetacean Family

  • Phocoenidae (porpoises)
     

Species in this Family

  • Neophocaena phocaenoides – Finless porpoise                 
  • Neophocaena asiaeorientalis – Narrow-ridged porpoise
  • Phocoena phocoena – Harbor porpoise
  • Phocoena sinus – Vaquita porpoise
  • Phocoena spinipinnis – Burmeister porpoise
  • Phocoena dioptrica – Spectacled porpoise
  • Phocoenoides dalli – Dall’s porpoise
     
Dall’s porpoise. Image by Uko Gorter
                            

 

 

 

 

Characteristics

  • No beak
  • Triangular dorsal fin
  • Spade-shaped teeth
  • 3 - 8 feet (0.9 - 2.4 m)
  • Use echolocation , grab then suck down their food
  • 65 - 250 pounds (29 - 113 kg)
  • Thick bodies
  • Between 60 – 120 teeth
  • Eat fish , shrimp and squid
  • Travel in small groups of six
     

Interesting Facts

  • Shy Creatures
  • Called the “Sea Hog”
  • Some are the smallest cetaceans in the world
  • Some species are marked with black, white and grey
  • Consume about 8% of their body weight to survive each day
  • Communicate at frequencies beyond range of human hearing
     

Habitat Range

  • In all coastal oceans but the north and south pole
Harbor porpoise. Photo by Bill Curtsinger
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Threats to survival                                                               

  • Noise pollution
  • Entanglement
  • Fishing gear
  • Chemicals
  • Humans
  • Orca Whales
  • Sharks
     

Life Expectancy

  • Known to live 12 to 23 years
     

Cited Resources

 
Researched and written by Amber Martin, NBWM Apprentice, March 2012
 
Last Modified: April 24, 2014