Phocoena phocoena (Linnaeus, 1758)

Identification

The harbour porpoise is difficult to observe because it shows little of itself at the surface, so a brief glimpse is the most common sighting. They are small in size and robust in shape. The color may be variable, but it is usually dark gray on the back, lightening up to the ventral area which is white. In some animals, dark lines can be noticed between the mouth and the pectoral fins. The dorsal fin is small and triangular. The head is small and rounded.

Biology

The gestation period is 10-11 months and the calf is born with about 67-85cm in length and weights 5kgs. Adults can reach 1.9m in length. Maturity is reached between 3 and 4 years. Females remain with their young calves 8 to 12 months and can breed annually. The weight of an adult varies between 55 and 65kgs. They feed on demersal and benthic species but also on pelagic fish.They are found in coastal waters. Longevity in this species reaches 24 years.

Behavior

They are considered shy and distrust boats. The behavior of “bow-riding” is rare. Sometimes, they can be detected through the breathing that, although rarely seen, produces a sharp and breathless sound. They are usually solitary and can be seen in small groups of 2 to 5 individuals. Sometimes makes arc-shaped leaps when chasing a prey. Possibly long periods of inactivity when resting on the surface.

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