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Related to Harbour Porpoise: Dall's Porpoise, Finless 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.


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 ?
Small-scale population structure of eastern North Pacific harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) indicated by molecular genetic analyses.
Identifying foraging behaviour of wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) with static acoustic dataloggers.
Bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise are not often seen at the same time: bottlenoses tend to scare off the smaller harbour porpoise as they compete for food.
Pulmonar pathology of harbour porpoises (Phocaena phocaena) stranded in England and Wales between 1990 and 1996.
On the by-catch of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in German fisheries in the Baltic and the North Sea.
Harbour porpoises in the North Atlantic: edited extracted from the report of the IWC Scientific Committee, Dublin 1995.
Scotlands first Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for harbour porpoise has been created in the Inner Hebrides and Minches SAC on the West of Scotland and is now Europes largest for this species.
Habitat preferences and interannual variability in occurrence of the harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena off northwest Scotland.
Big Watch organiser Alison Lomax received reports of white beaked dolphins from St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay, and harbour porpoise off Craster, Seahouses, Cresswell, Cullernose Point, Dunstanburgh Castle and Bamburgh Castle.
These in turn attract commercial fish species (mackerel, plaice, whiting and cod), seabirds (such as fulmar and kittiwake) and cetaceans, in particular the harbour porpoise.
And herds of harbour porpoise pursued prey up rivers while dolphins often played in inshore waters.
Scientists were amazed that the harbour porpoise, thought to be less than six months old, had swum so far inland.