HARBOR PORPOISE – Phocoena phocoena


Harbor porpoise facts: Harbor porpoises have short, thick bodies with brown or dark gray backs and whitish bellies. Their lips and chin are black. They have a rounded forehead and no beak. Females are larger than males with an average weight of 130 pounds (60 kilograms) and an average length of 5.5 feet (1.6 meters). Males weigh about 110 pounds (50 kilograms) and measure about 4.8 feet (1.4 meters).

Geographic range: Harbor porpoises are found along the U.S. and Canadian coasts in the North Atlantic, around Greenland and northern Europe, in the Mediterranean Sea, and the northern Pacific along the North American coast and in Asia as far south as northern Japan.

Harbor porpoise habitat: These animals live in cold costal waters, bays, tidal channels, and estuaries. They appear to prefer water between 65 and 200 feet (20 and 60 meters) deep.

What does harbor porpoise eat: Harbor porpoises eat cold water fish such as herring and mackerel. They also eat squid and octopus.

Behavior and reproduction: Harbor porpoises are shy and avoid people. They rarely leap out of the water when they go to the surface to breathe. They are heard more often than they are seen, because they make a loud puffing sound when they surface to breathe.

Harbor porpoises and people: From 1830 to about 1950, these animals were hunted for food and oil, but today little hunting takes place.

Conservation status: Harbor porpoises are considered Vulnerable, because they are often drowned accidentally by commercial fishing gear.