porpoise

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porpoise,

small whalewhale,
aquatic mammal of the order Cetacea, found in all oceans of the world. Members of this order vary greatly in size and include the largest animals that have ever lived. Cetaceans never leave the water, even to give birth.
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 of the family Phocaenidae, allied to the dolphindolphin,
aquatic mammal, any of the small toothed whales of the family Delphinidae, numbering more than 50 species. These include the true, or beaked, dolphins, the killer whale, the pilot whale, and the freshwater species found in rivers of South America and S and E Asia.
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. Porpoises, like other whales, are mammals; they are warm-blooded, breathe air, and give birth to live young, which they suckle with milk. They are distinguished from dolphins by their smaller size and their rounded, beakless heads. Porpoises are 4 to 6 ft (120–180 cm) long and are black above and white below. Traveling in schools, porpoises prey on fish, often pursuing them long distances up rivers.

The finned porpoises, species of the genus Phocoena, have a dorsal fin. They are distributed throughout the world and include the harbour, or common, porpoise, P. phocoena, found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The vaquita, P. sinus, found only in the N Gulf of California, Mexico, is the smallest and most endangered species. The finless porpoises, genus Neophocaena, are found in the Indian and W Pacific oceans and in the Chang (Yangtze) River.

The fat of the porpoise yields a lubricating oil, and the flesh is sometimes eaten. In North America the dolphins (family Delphinidae) are sometimes called porpoises and the bottle-nosed dolphin is sometimes called the common porpoise. True porpoises are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Cetacea, family Phocoenidae.

Bibliography

See W. N. Kellogg, Porpoises and Sonar (1961); K. S. Norris, ed., Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (1966) and, as author, The Porpoise Watcher (1974); R. Ellis, Dolphins and Porpoises (1989).

What does it mean when you dream about a porpoise?

See Dolphin.

porpoise

[′pȯr·pəs]
(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several species of marine mammals of the family Phocaenidae which have small flippers, a highly developed sonar system, and smooth, thick, hairless skin.

porpoise

1. any of various small cetacean mammals of the genus Phocaena and related genera, having a blunt snout and many teeth: family Delphinidae (or Phocaenidae)
2. any of various related cetaceans, esp the dolphin
References in periodicals archive ?
UK harbour porpoises are part of a larger north-east Atlantic population and our research suggests a population-level risk from PCB exposure.
Geographical differences in organochlorine contaminants in harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena from the western North Atlantic.
Brian Saunders of the Porthcawl Environment Trust said the group would formally complain to the European Union if Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay was granted a marine licence without also getting a European Marine Species licence ensuring piling work would not harm harbour porpoises in Swansea Bay.
The site has various displays informing people about the types of species that can be seen in the North Sea as well as activities for children, such as a harbour porpoise version of Snakes and Ladders.
Identifying foraging behaviour of wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) with static acoustic dataloggers.
Sea Watch director Dr Peter Evans saw a group of 12 harbour porpoise off Anglesey on Saturday and more off the island on Sunday.
He pled guilty in March to buying the whale skull and tooth and the skulls of two harbour porpoises "for commercial purposes".
The stunned pair also saw a pod of harbour porpoises and what they thought was a fin whale as locals reported numerous sightings of sharks and large marine mammals in recent days.
A marked increase was seen after the early 1980s, mostly involving common dolphins and harbour porpoises.
Causes of mortality and parasites and incidental lesions in harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) from British waters.
Harbour porpoises in the North Atlantic: edited extracted from the report of the IWC Scientific Committee, Dublin 1995.