Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Porpoises: Phocoenidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Harbor Porpoise (phocoena Phocoena): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, PORPOISES AND PEOPLE

Porpoises: Phocoenidae - Burmeister's Porpoise (phocoena Spinipinnis): Species Accounts

accessed july south conservation

Physical characteristics: Burmeister's porpoise, sometimes called the black porpoise, measures between 4.6 and 6 feet (1.4 and 1.8 meters) and weighs 88 to 154 pounds (40 to 70 kilograms). This porpoise has a dark gray to black back and a dark gray belly. Its small dorsal (back) fin is located farther back on its body than the fin of any other porpoise.


Geographic range: Burmeister's porpoise is found in South America from Brazil south to Tierra del Fuego in the Atlantic Ocean, and then north in the Pacific Ocean as far as the coast of Peru. It is more common on the Atlantic side of South America than on the Pacific side.

Burmeister's porpoises make quick, jerky movements when they swim, and are barely visible when they come up to breathe. (Illustration by Michelle Meneghini. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: This porpoise prefers cold, coastal water no more than 500 feet (152 meters) deep.


Diet: Burmeister's porpoise eats about nine species of fish, mainly hake and anchovies. It also eats squid, small shrimp, and mollusks.


Behavior and reproduction: Burmeister's porpoises make quick, jerky movements when they swim. They do not leap out of the water and are barely visible when they come up to breathe. They seem to live in groups of fewer than eight individuals. They are very shy and difficult to study, so little is known about their behavior or reproductive cycle. They appear to mate between June and September and give birth about ten months later.


Burmeister's porpoise and people: Burmeister's porpoises have been hunted for meat in Chile and Peru.


Conservation status: Information about the population of Burmeister's porpoise is not known, so they have been given a Data Deficient conservation rating. The greatest threat to this species is drowning by becoming caught in fishing gear. This species became protected by law in 1994, and since then the number of individuals killed has decreased. ∎

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Carwadine, Mark, and Martin Camm. Smithsonian Handbooks: Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises. New York: DK Publishing, 2002.

Ellis, Richard. Dolphins and Porpoises. New York: Knopf, 1989.

Nowak, Ronald. M. Walker's Mammals of the World Online 5.1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world (accessed on July 7, 2004).

Web sites:

American Cetacean Society. http://www.acsonline.org (accessed on July 7, 2004).

Culik, Boris and Convention on Migratory Species. Phocoena phocoena. http://www.cms.int/reports/small_cetaceans/data/P_phocoena/p_phocoena.htm (accessed July 7, 2004).

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. http://www.wdcs.org (accessed on July 7, 2004).

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