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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.


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.


(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.


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 ?
ANYONE who finds dead porpoises or dolphins on the North Wales coast is being urged to call in experts so a cause of death can be established.
Yangtze finless porpoise, Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis, Distribution patterns, Habitat selection, Confluence.
com/vaquita-extinction-us-navy-deploys-dolphins-save-endangered-animal-2599111) four dolphins trained by the Navy would be charged with finding their porpoise cousins so that scientists could capture them and protect them from illegal fishing, what experts have called the greatest contributor to their extreme population decline.
The Pacific Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena vomerina) is an abundant and year-round cetacean in the Salish Sea (Ford 2014; Gaydos and Pearson 2011; Zier and Gaydos 2015).
The inshore lifeboat was asked to launch by the coastguard to help the RSPCA save the porpoise stranded in the inner harbour facing the wall and unable to get back out to sea.
The harbor porpoise norovirus (HPNV) sequence was confirmed by Sanger sequencing (6,293 nt; GenBank accession no.
10pm yesterday to reports the porpoise had become stranded on rocks.
HARBOUR porpoises must constantly eat and hunt to survive, a new study by the University of St Andrews reveals.
The proposed new sites will be used to protect internationally important species such as harbour porpoise, and seabird species including tern, Manx shearwater and puffin.
Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) are distributed throughout Alaska waters (Fiscus et al.
Little is also known about the numbers and distribution of harbor porpoise in the bay, although they are seen more frequently than are beluga by the residents of Yakutat.
Last month The Journal reported how 2013 set a new record for whale, dolphin and harbour porpoise sightings off the North East coast.