Finless Porpoise

Common Name: Finless Porpoise

Class: Mammalia

Order: Cetacea

Suborder: Odontoceti

Family: Phocoenidae

Genus: Neophocaena

Species: Neophocaena phocaenoides


The finless porpoise belongs to the Mammalian Order Cetacea, in the suborder Odontoceti.  All toothed whales belong to the suborder Odontoceti, which is Latin for "toothed whales".  The finless porpoise belongs to the porpoise family, Phocoenidae.  Other members of this family include the harbor porpoise and cochito, the smallest cetacean.  The Dall's porpoise's scientific name is Neophocaena phocaenoides.  The generic name means "new porpoise".  The specific name means "porpoise-like".  Finless porpoises are primarily gray.  They lack a dorsal fin, and instead have a dorsal ridge, like that of the beluga, Delphinapterus leucas.  Adults grow to about lengths of 3-6ft and weigh about 55-90lbs.


The finless porpoise inhabits the warm coastal waters and rivers throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia.  Warm shallow waters and estuarine ecosystems are preferred.  Small fish, shrimp and squid compose the finless porpoise's diet.


Groups of 1-5 have been observed, with female and calf pairs or breeding pairs commonly witnessed.  Breeding occurs in late spring and early summer, after a gestation period of 10-11 months.  Newborn calves are 2-2.5ft in length, weighing no more than 15lbs.  Interestingly, calves cling to a roughened area of skin on their mother's back.  They are carried by her as she swims.  Calves are weaned at 6-15 months.  Sexual maturity is attained at 4-6 years for males and 6-9 years for females.


Finless porpoise has completely disappeared from parts of its range.  Possible cause may be interference with boats, pollution, fishing or other consequences of human development.  However, Japanese fish nets have been modified to reduce the number of cetaceans that drown annually from fishing.  The Inland Sea, near Japan, is estimated to contain 4,900 individuals.


Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.