Porpoises (Phocoenidae) | Characteristics, Habitats & Amazing Facts

Name - Porpoises

Scientific Name : Phocoenidae

Type : Aquatic Animal 

Age : 8 – 10 years 

Diet : Carnivore

Physical Characteristics:

Length : 1.2 m To 2 m.

Weight : 32 Kg. To 110 Kg. 

Top Speed : 30 mph 

Colour : gray or black above and white below

Skin Type : Tough with layer of fat under

Lifespan : 8 – 10 years

Current Population :  more than 700,000

Current Population Trend : decreasing

Native : eastern and western South America, southern Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans, northern rim of the Pacific Ocean and coast of Japan


Main Prey : small benthic fish such as gobies, non-spiny fish such as herring, cod, whiting, mackerel, sardines, and occasionally squid or octopus

Habitat : northern temperate and subarctic, and arctic coastal and offshore waters

Predators : Great White shark, orcas, and dolphins

Lifestyle : Nocturnal and diurnal 

Favourite Food : non-spiny fish

Amazing Facts

  • Porpoises and dolphins are also members of the scientific order Cetacea, but they are two distinct species. Their bodies are both sleek, and their flippers are huge. Both are intelligent beings with a melon, a device in the forehead that produces sound waves to help them navigate their aquatic habitats.
  • Porpoises and dolphins, on the other hand, vary in many respects. Porpoises, unlike dolphins, do not have elongated beaks. Dolphins have curved or hook-shaped dorsal fins, while porpoises have triangular fins. Finless porpoises are an exception. They have no fins at all.
  • Porpoises are divided into three genera, each with six species. Gulf of California harbour porpoises can be found in the northern part of the Gulf of California, as their name suggests. Burmeister’s porpoise, also known as black porpoises, can be found off the coasts of eastern and western South America.
  • The spectacled porpoise prefers cold water and can be found all over the world, with the exception of a region just north of Antarctica. The common porpoise, also known as the harbour porpoise, prefers cold water and can be found along the east coast of North America, around southern Greenland, off the coasts of Scandinavia, and off the coasts of Alaska and Japan.
  • The Dall’s porpoise stays close to the Pacific Ocean’s northern rim. Some finless porpoises can be seen swimming around the coasts of South Asia, while others can be found in the Yellow Sea between China and Korea and around southern Japan.
  • Some porpoises aren’t content to sit in the water. Some people can swim in both salt and fresh water and can swim in rivers and channels. Finless porpoises, for example, can be found in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean’s coastal waters and rivers.
  • Porpoises have live births because they are mammals. Females give birth to one young at a time after a gestation period of 10 to 11 months. Puppies and calves are the names given to the young.
  • Puppies are weaned between the ages of seven and twenty-four months and reach sexual maturity between the ages of two and eight years, depending on the breed.
  • Although fusing the neck vertebrae improves stability when swimming at high speeds, it also reduces flexibility, making it difficult to turn their head. When swimming, they propel themselves by shifting their tail fin and lower body up and down, while their flippers are primarily used for steering. The movement of the flippers is constant.
  • In captivity, porpoises have been observed sleeping with one side of their brain at a time, allowing them to swim, breathe consciously, and avoid predators and social interaction while resting.
  • Porpoises and other smaller cetaceans have long been hunted for their meat and blubber in many countries. Drive hunting is a common hunting technique in which a group of animals is herded into a bay or onto a beach by boats. The passage to the ocean is blocked off with other vessels or nets, preventing their escape.
  • Pollution is becoming a big concern for marine mammals. Heavy metals and plastic waste are not biodegradable, and cetaceans have been known to mistake these hazardous materials for food. As a result, the animals are more disease-prone and have less offspring.
  • Air-filled sinus pockets acoustically separate the porpoise ear from the skull, allowing for better directional hearing underwater.
  • While the eye of a porpoise is small in relation to its size, it retains a fair degree of vision. Furthermore, since a porpoise’s eyes are located on the sides of its head, their vision consists of two fields rather than a binocular view like that of humans. Porpoises’ lenses and corneas correct nearsightedness caused by light refraction, and their eyes contain both rod and cone cells, allowing them to see in both dim and bright light.

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