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Harbour Purpoise


Phocoena phocoena

Scientifc Name: Phocoena phocoena

Description: it has a small but sturdy body. Generally, in Northern Europe the adults do not exceed 1.5m and 70 kg and females slightly larger than males. In the Iberian Peninsula there are recordes of larger animals and can exceed 2m in length and 80 kg in weight. The teeth (22 to 27 teeth byhemi-jaw) have the form of human with about of 5 mm in diameter. The colouration of the Harbour Porpoise can be variable but typically is dark grey on the back, clearing up the ventral area that is white. In some animals may be noted dark lines between the mouth and the pectoral fins. Features a short snout with no discernible beak. Has dark fins and the dorsal fin is small and distinctly triangular.

Biology: they are usually solitary animals and, sometimes, they can be observed in small groups of 2 to 5 individuals. The most common groups are made by the mother and the young. They are shy and usually swim away from the boats. They feed on benthic and demersal species but also of species of pelagic fish forming shoals. Sexual maturity occurs at 3-4 years of age and gestation takes 10-11 months. The females remain with the cubs during first 8 to 12 months and can breed annually. Some females get pregnant while still breastfeeding the cubs from the previous year.

Distribution: They inhabit temperate and subpolar waters all northern hemisphere. As a coastal species i tis observed in areas of less than 200m depth, estuaries and bays. In Portugal, it is distributed along the whole coast, although it is more frequent in the northern zone, between Porto and Nazaré and in the area of Arrábida and Costa da Galé, in areas quite close to the shore. A third major area is the region of the Algarve between Sagres and Albufeira.


Last Modified: 26/02/2016

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