BURMEISTER’S PORPOISE – Phocoena spinipinnis


Burmeister’s porpoise facts: Burmeister’s porpoise, sometimes called the black porpoise, measures between 4.6 and 6 feet (1.4 and 1.8 meters) and weighs 88 to 154 pounds (40 to 70 kilograms). This porpoise has a dark gray to black back and a dark gray belly. Its small dorsal (back) fin is located farther back on its body than the fin of any other porpoise.

Geographic range: Burmeister’s porpoise is found in South America from Brazil south to Tierra del Fuego in the Atlantic Ocean, and then north in the Pacific Ocean as far as the coast of Peru. It is more common on the Atlantic side of South America than on the Pacific side.

Burmeister’s porpoise habitat: This porpoise prefers cold, coastal water no more than 500 feet (152 meters) deep.

What does burmeister’s porpoise eat: Burmeister’s porpoise eats about nine species of fish, mainly hake and anchovies. It also eats squid, small shrimp, and mollusks.

Behavior and reproduction: Burmeister’s porpoises make quick, jerky movements when they swim. They do not leap out of the water and are barely visible when they come up to breathe. They seem to live in groups of fewer than eight individuals. They are very shy and difficult to study, so little is known about their behavior or reproductive cycle. They appear to mate between June and September and give birth about ten months later.

Burmeister’s porpoise and people: Burmeister’s porpoises have been hunted for meat in Chile and Peru.

Conservation status: Information about the population of Burmeister’s porpoise is not known, so they have been given a Data Deficient conservation rating. The greatest threat to this species is drowning by becoming caught in fishing gear. This species became protected by law in 1994, and since then the number of individuals killed has decreased.