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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 ?
I see harbour porpoise most days and there have been dolphins only a quarter-of-a-mile out.
Variability of the mitochondrial control region in populations of the harbour porpoise, Phocoena, on interoceanic and regional scales.
Just last year, 759 harbour porpoises were spotted, as well as 179 whitebeaked dolphins and 54 minke whales.
Richard Harrington of the Marine Conservation Society says this is a feasible explanation for the deaths of large numbers of harbour porpoises in the UK, whose injuries were previously unexplained.
Police said the pictured animal was a harbour porpoise, the smallest species of porpoise.
Sea Watch director Dr Peter Evans saw a group of 12 harbour porpoise off Anglesey on Saturday and more off the island on Sunday.
Brucella ceti associated pathology in the testicle of a harbour porpoise (Phocoenaphocoena).
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.
Calculating the flippers' efficiencies, the team found that the bottle nose dolphin's triangular flippers are the most efficient while the harbour porpoise and Atlantic white-sided dolphin's fins were the least efficient.
Tony said: "En route we point out Minke whales, dolphins, harbour porpoise, basking sharks and seals.
Patterns of variability of retinol levels in a harbour porpoise population from an unpolluted environment.