Phocoena phocoena - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Harbor Porpoise
Other English Common Names: Harbour Porpoise
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Phocoena phocoena (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 180473)
French Common Names: marsouin commun
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103916
Element Code: AMAGF01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Whales and Dolphins
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Cetacea Phocoenidae Phocoena
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Phocoena phocoena
Taxonomic Comments: Various data indicate that four distinct populations exist in the western North Atlantic Ocean: Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy; Gulf of St. Lawrence; Newfoundland; and Greenland (NMFS 1999). Patterns of morphological variation in metric skull characters suggest that gene flow among populations is restricted to some degree even among closely adjacent geographical units (Gao and Gaskin 1996).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 15Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5 (15Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N3B,N3N,N3M (01Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S4S5), California (SNR), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), Florida (SNR), Maine (SNR), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (S4), New Jersey (S3), New York (S4), North Carolina (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (S4)
Canada British Columbia (S3), Labrador (SNR), New Brunswick (S4), Newfoundland Island (SNR), Nova Scotia (S4), Nunavut (SNR), Prince Edward Island (SNR), Quebec (S4)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):PS:SC
Comments on COSEWIC: Northwest Atlantic population and Pacific Ocean population are designated Special Concern. Northwest Atlantic population was designated Threatened in April 1990. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 1991. Downlisted to Special Concern in May 2003. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 2006. Pacific Ocean population was designated Data Deficient in April 1991. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2003. Last assessment based on an update status report.
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Temperate and ice-free boreal zone of northern hemisphere; summer visitor to the productive fringes of the Arctic Ocean (Gaskin 1992; Suydam and George, 1992, Can. Field-Nat. 106:489-492); isolated population in the Black Sea; south to Senegal in the eastern Atlantic. Has disappeared from parts of the Baltic Sea, the southern North Sea, and portions of the central California coast (see Read et al. 1993). See also IUCN (1991) for distribution information.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total population for the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy was estimated at 37,500 in 1991, 67,500 in 1992, and 74,000 in 1995 (NMFS 1999). In the 1980s, population from California to Washington was estimated at about 50,000 (Barlow 1987, cited by IUCN 1991). See IUCN (1991) for population estimates for other parts of the range.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Mortality due to entanglement and entrapment in commercial fishing gear may contribute to depletion of local populations in western Greenland, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, Bay of Fundy, and Gulf of Maine (Read and Gaskin 1988, Read et al. 1993, Caswell et al. 1998, NMFS 1999), as well as in other parts of the world (IUCN 1991). The average annual mortality estimate for 1992-1997 for U.S. Atlantic fisheries was 1,749 individuals (NMFS 1999). Bycatch in the Bay of Fundy in Canada was estimated at approximately 100-425 porpoises per year in the early 1990s (Trippel et al. 1996). Bycatch reduction efforts are in operation, and NMFS (1999) regarded these as sufficient to reduce the bycatch to sustainable levels. Habitat modification and environmental contaminants do not appear to be a significant threat in the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy (NMFS 1999).

Short-term Trend Comments: Populations are depleted or in decline in many areas (Read et al. 1993, Gaskin 1992).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Protection from excessive mortality in commercial fisheries is an important consideration (IUCN 1991, NMFS 1999); regulate and monitor fisheries to maintain bycatch at sustainable levels. January 1994). A variety of local stocks should be protected, since there seems to be relatively little gene flow among populations (Gao and Gaskin 1996).

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Temperate and ice-free boreal zone of northern hemisphere; summer visitor to the productive fringes of the Arctic Ocean (Gaskin 1992; Suydam and George, 1992, Can. Field-Nat. 106:489-492); isolated population in the Black Sea; south to Senegal in the eastern Atlantic. Has disappeared from parts of the Baltic Sea, the southern North Sea, and portions of the central California coast (see Read et al. 1993). See also IUCN (1991) for distribution information.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CA, CT, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NC, NJ, NY, OR, VA, WA
Canada BC, LB, NB, NF, NS, NU, PE, QC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Ocean (34029)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: See Koopman and Gaskin (1994, Can. J. Zool. 72:135-143) for information on individual and geographic variation in pigmentation patterns (no strong geogrphic pattern).
Reproduction Comments: Breeds in summer. Following a gestation of 10-11 months, a single calf is born between May and early August. Females breed each year. Young weaned in 8 months. In Bay of Fundy, sexually mature in 3-4 years (5-6 years in north Sea). Few live beyond 7-8 years.
Ecology Comments: Social; travels in groups of 2-10, sometimes up to 50 individuals; may segregate by sex and/or age.
Habitat Type: Marine
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: May make seasonal inshore (summer) - offshore (winter) or north (summer) - south (winter) migrations, though movements often are related to movements of prey species (IUCN 1991).
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore, Pelagic
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, River mouth/tidal river
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER
Habitat Comments: Coastal waters and adjacent offshore shallows; also inhabits inshore areas such as bays, channels, and rivers. Mothers and young tend to move into sheltered coves and similar sites soon after parturition.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Eats various fishes, squid, and crustaceans. In summer in the Bay of Fundy, adults fed mainly on clupeid and gadid fishes while euphausiids were the most common prey of calves (Can. J. Zool. 70:1629).
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Active day/night.
Length: 1800 centimeters
Weight: 54000 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: See IUCN (1991) for information on historical and present harvest; Greenland is the only country presently reporting large direct catches; use is mainly for human consumption; there is no longer a major commerical harvest, though resumption of commercial harvest may occur in Turkey (IUCN 1991).
Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Harbor porpoises in the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy appear to comprise a relatively discrete population unit that can be managed as a separate stock (NMFS 1999).

Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Dolphins and Porpoises

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A marine area that is or has been occupied consistently or recurrently. Occurrences not based on the entire range of particular populations or subpopulations, but rather on distinct areas that are important to the survival of these populations. Minimally, at least two and preferably several years of observation should be used to reliably identify significant, recurrent occurrences.
Separation Barriers: Upland areas.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 20 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 20 km
Separation Justification: Separation Distance arbitrary. In most cases, occurrences should not be extensive areas but rather portions of such areas that stand out as strongly meeting the occurrence criteria.
Available information on genetics, dispersion, and movement patterns of most populations generally is insufficient to determine biologically meaningful separation distances for occurrences. The separation distance used here does not attempt to identify biologically distinct populations but rather is an arbitrary value that attempts to identify relatively distinct geographic areas that have frequent or concentrated activity and that are of practical size.
Bottlenose Dolphins (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) that were resident in a South Carolina estuary had relatively small home ranges (mean 51.3 square kilometers, 95% adaptive kernel method; Gubbins 2002).

Date: 06Mar2002
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Contains all members of the families Delphinidae and Phocoenidae, except ORCINUS ORCA.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 05Nov2003
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 06Sep1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
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