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April 21, 2018  |  Login

Finless Porpoise
Neophocaena phocaenoides

What Are They Like?

The finless porpoise is the only porpoise that lacks a dorsal fin. It has a low, bump-covered ridge that runs along its back from above the flippers to the tail. Finless porpoises are relatively small and grow to 5-6.5 feet (1.5-2 m) in length and can weigh up to 160 pounds (73 kilograms). The body of the finless porpoise is light grey with a pale underside. Other distinguishing characteristics are its slightly beak shaped mouth and its large bulging forehead.

Where Do They Live?

Finless porpoises inhabit the warm coastal waters of the Indian and West Pacific Oceans. They are most commonly found along the shores of India, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Japan.

Did You Know?
About half the population of finless porpoises have pink eyes.

How Are Babies Made?

Finless porpoises have a gestation period that lasts 11 months. They are believed to give birth to a single calf approximately every two years.

What Do They Eat?

Their diet consists of small fish, mollusks and crustaceans that are caught close to shore.

Did You Know?
Calves have been observed riding on the backs of their mothers as they swim.

What Do They Do?

The finless porpoise either lives in pairs, alone or in small groups of up to 12. The most common pairing is a mother and calf. They are very active animals and usually swim just below the surface of the water. Their lack of a dorsal fin actually makes them very hard to spot when they swimming close to the surface. They are also very shy and tend to distance themselves from human activity. Although finless porpoises typically inhabit coastal waters, they have also been found in rivers and estuaries.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the Finless Porpoise as "endangered." Gillnets laid out by commercial fishermen are the biggest threat to these animals. They will accidentally swim into and become entangled in the nets and asphyxiate. This has been responsible for a drastic population decline in recent years. Since they primary live in coastal areas, they face additional threats such as boat activity, pollution and degradation of habitat.

What's Being Done?

Finless porpoises are listed in Appendix I of CITES (Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species). A national reserve in Oxbow Lake, near Shishou City in China, is home to 28 individuals. Additional conservation and effective management strategies need to be implemented to reduce the number of accidental catches and death caused by fishing.


Finless Porpoise

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