Harbour porpoise

Harbour porpoise – Phocoena phocoena – Φώκαινα

Other common names:
FR – marsouin commun
ES – marsopa común
IT – focena comune
DE – Schweinswal

Until the mid 1990s the harbour porpoise was considered absent or extinct in the Mediterranean Sea. Its presence is now definitely confirmed by a number of strandings and one sighting and it is limited to the northern part of the Aegean Sea.This is the smallest cetacean found in the Mediterranean. The body is fairly stocky resulting in a rotund shape and lacks a prominent beak. A triangular dorsal fin is positioned mid-body and is visible when the animal surfaces. Colouration is typically dark grey on the back and pectoral (side) fins, with lighter grey sides and a pale belly. There is a dark stripe from the mouth to the pectoral fins. A swimming pattern of several short, rapid surfacings followed by an extended dive of several minutes is characteristic for this species. Adult animals measure 1.4 to 1.7 metres in length and weigh around 60-70 kg. Lifespan is about 10 to 20 years.

IUCN Red List classification: The Black Sea subpopulation (thought to also include Aegean Sea animals) is proposed as
Endangered (Birkun & Frantzis 2006)

Birkun A. Jr., Frantzis A., 2006. Harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena relicta (Black Sea subspecies). Pp. 39-47 in Reeves R., Notarbartolo di Sciara G. (compilers and editors). The status and distribution of cetaceans in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, Malaga, Spain, pp. 137.