Harbour porpoise

Species profile

Name: the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is one of seven species of porpoise and one of the smallest members of the cetacean family which includes the whales and dolphins.

Appearance: harbour porpoises are usually a grey colour with thick bodies and triangular dorsal fins.

Size: they are smaller than most other porpoises, reaching around 1.9 metres long and weighing up to 76 kg.

Diet: they mostly feed on small schooling fish such as herring, capelin, and sprat. However, they sometimes eat squid and crustaceans.

Did you know: the main predators of harbour porpoises are great white sharks and orcas. However, researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have found that bottlenose dolphins also attack and kill harbour porpoises, even though they do not eat them. This may be to prevent competition for food or by mistaking them for juvenile dolphins which they also sometimes attack and kill. If that wasn’t enough, grey seals have also been found to attack harbour porpoises by biting off chunks of fat as a high energy food source.

Location: they live in coastal areas and river estuaries, making them the most familiar porpoise to whale watchers. Harbour porpoises can be found across the cooler, coastal waters of the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and the Black Sea.

Where to see harbour porpoises

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see harbour porpoises in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Sound of Arisaig
very high
very good
Isle of Skye
very good

Photo credit: Ecomare under a Creative Commons licence from Wikipedia

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