The Different Types of Porpoises

Porpoises are members of family phocoenidae and are unique type of cetacean. They are small animals since no species grows more than eight feet. They have spade-shaped teeth, blunt snouts and robust bodies. Many porpoises are shy and most species are not well-known. Below is a list of the porpoise types.

  • Harbor porpoise
  • Vaquita or Gulf of California Harbor Porpoise
  • Dall’s porpoise
  • Burmeister’s porpoise
  • Spectactled porpoise
  • Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise
  • Narrow-ridged finless porpoise

Harbor Porpoise

It is also known as the common porpoise and it is probably among the well known porpoise species. They grow to about 4-6 feet in length and they can grow weigh 110-130 pounds. Male harbor porpoises are often smaller than females. They have a white underside with mottled flanks and on their back; they have a dark grey coloration. Other distinguishing features are a small triangular dorsal fin and a stripe running from their mouth to the flippers. These porpoises are mainly found in both offshore and inshore waters in small groups. They are widely distributed living in cold waters in the Black Sea, North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans.

Vaquita or Gulf of California Harbor Porpoise

It is the smallest cetacean and it is one of the most endangered. Vaquitas have a very small range and they live in inshore waters of the northern end of the Gulf of California of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. They grow to about 4-6 feet long and weigh 65-120 pounds. They have a lighter grey underside and a dark grey back, black ring around their eye and black chin and lips. They are shy and may stay underwater for a long time making their sightings very difficult.

Dall’s Porpoise

It is the fastest of all the cetaceans since it swims very fast at a speed of about 30 mph creating a ‘rooster tail’. These porpoises is mostly found in large groups of about thousands members unlike other porpoises species. They have a striking coloration consisting of a black to dark grey body with white patches. They also have a white pigmentation on their dorsal and tail fin. They are fairly large and can grow to 7-8 feet in length. They are found in subarctic to warm temperate deep oceans of the Pacific Ocean.

Burmeister’s Porpoise

They are also known as the black porpoise. They were named after Hermann Burmeister who described the species in the early 1860′s. This species grow to a maximum weight of 187 pounds and a length of 6.5 feet. They have a dark grey to brownish grey back, a light underside and a dark grey stripe which runs from their chin to the flipper although it is wider on the left side. Their dorsal fin is set on their body far back and has small hard bumps on its leading edge. They live in the western and eastern South America.

Spectacled Porpoise

Much of what is known from this species is obtained from stranded members who have been found on the Southern tip of South America. It has a distinctive coloration which deepens with age. Adults have black backs and white undersides, while juveniles have light grey undersides and grey backs. Their name was obtained from their dark circle around their eye which is surrounded by white. They grow to about 6 feet and weigh about 250 pounds.

Indo-Pacific Pinless Porpoise

This species was originally called the finless porpoise but recently, it was divided into two species; the indo-pacific and the narrow-ridged. This was after a discovery that the two species cannot breed. This species lives in more tropical waters and it is more wide-ranging than the other one.
These porpoises live in shallow coastal waters and the western and northern Indian Pacific Oceans. They have a ridge on their back rather than a dorsal fin which is covered by tubercles. They are grey to dark grey with a light underside and can grow to a maximum length of 6.5 feet and weigh 220 pounds.

Narrow-ridged Finless Porpoise

It has a ridge on its back rather than a dorsal fin which is covered by tubercles just like the Indo-pacific finless porpoise. It is darker grey than the Indo-pacific finless porpoise. Some of its members live in fresh waters while others live in coastal waters of Taiwan, china, Korea and Japan.

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