Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Harbor porpoises can be found in cold waters throughout the Northern Hemisphere and occur in coastal waters no deeper than 300 meters. Harbor porpoises are considerably smaller than most other cetaceans and are often briefly observed at the ocean's surface. They have a robust body and a color pattern that is subtle, but complex, with a simple dark gray cape overlaid on a much lighter gray dorsal color with variable gray flecks in the light gray area.  The throat and belly are white and are often observed with a dark eye ring and chin patch. The average adult is 5 feet in length and weighs a maximum of 150 pounds.  These porpoise prey upon small schooling fish such as herring, mackerel, or smelt. A good feeding ground can attract hundreds of harbor porpoises. They become sexually mature at 3-5 years and they breed in the summer months. Most harbor porpoises have a life span of 10-13 years. Their gestation is approximately 10-11 months and lactation lasts approximately 8 months. Harbor Porpoise are considered to be shy. They generally avoid moving vessels and do not bow ride or perform acrobatics. They can be found in groups of 2-10 animals and prefer shallow coastal waters.

The primary threat to the Harbor porpoise is bycatch in fishing gear.

Strandings: The Working Group for Unusual Marine Mammal Mortality Events has declared an unusual mortality event for harbor porpoises in Washington and Oregon State for 2006. This is due to an increased number in strandings and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of these strandings.

To report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal, please call: 1-866-767-6114 
For law enforcement, harassments,  and other violations, please call:  1-800-853-1964