Harbour Porpoise

(Phocoena phocoena)


Family: Phococenidae

Species: Phocoena phocoena

Lenght: 1 to 2 meters.

Weight: 27 to 88 Kg.

Life expectancy: Up to 24 years.

Diet: Small schooling fish such as herring, capelin, sprat, silver hake and cephalopods (squid).

Description: Harbor porpoises are the most commonly sighted species of toothed whale in our study area in the St. Lawrence. Like all porpoises, they differ from dolphins by having small, shade-shaped teeth versus conical teeth, and are typically smaller in length. The dorsal sides of their bodies are dark grey, which gradually fades to light grey to white on their ventral sides, they have a very short, subtle rostrum, a single blowhole opening, and they have a prominent, triangular shaped dorsal fin. 


whale swimming 4

A harbour porpoise "porpoising" (swimming with fast surfacings)


Behaviour: Harbor porpoises are found solitary, but most often in pairs or small groups of 5 to 10 individuals. They can be seen in large quantities, spread out over an area. Like other toothed whales, harbor porpoises can echolocate to find prey in deep, murky waters by sending out a series of clicks the porpoise produces in its nasal cavities which bounce of fish and return to the animal to provide it with an acoustic visualization.