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Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

In the eastern North Pacific Ocean, the harbor porpoise ranges from Point Barrow, along the Alaska coast, and down the west coast of North America to Point Conception, California. They are found primarily in coastal waters and occur most frequently in waters less than 100 m in depth. They are widely distributed and locally abundant. Harbor porpoise are small, most under 2 m in length and 90 kg in weight. They are most often seen singly, in pairs, or groups of up to 10, although there are reports of aggregations of up to 200 harbor porpoise. Most seasonal movements appear to be inshore-offshore and may be influenced by prey availability or the presence of ice-free waters. They are non-descript in coloration and behavior; they infrequently breach or porpoise clear of the water. Unlike most other porpoises, they do not approach boats to bow ride. Little is known of their reproductive biology: most mating occurs in summer; the gestation period is about 11 months; most births occur between May and July.

MML Research Recent MML Harbor Porpoise Publications
  • WHITING, A., M. CASTELLOTE, R. J. SMALL, K. J. FROST, and R. SUYDAM. 2019. Unexpected mid-winter presence of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. Mar. Mam. Sci. Early Online.  Online.
  • CASTELLOTE, M., K. M. STAFFORD, A. D. NEFF, and W. LUCEY. 2015. Acoustic monitoring and prey association for beluga whale, Delphinapterus leucas, and harbor porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, off two river mouths in Yakutat Bay, Alaska. Mar. Fish. Rev. 77(1):1-10. DOI: (.pdf, 1.43 MB).  Online.
  • DAHLHEIM, M. E., A. N. ZERBINI, J. M. WAITE, and A. S. KENNEDY. 2015. Temporal changes in abundance of harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) inhabiting the inland waters of Southeast Alaska. Fish. Bull., U.S. 113:242-255. (.pdf, 1.73 MB).  Online.
  • SHELDEN, K. E. W., B. A. AGLER, J. J. BRUEGGEMAN, L. A. CORNICK, S. G. SPECKMAN, and A. PREVEL-RAMOS. 2014. Harbor porpoise, Phocoena phocoena vomerina, in Cook Inlet, Alaska. Mar. Fish. Rev. 76:22-50. (.pdf, 12.4 MB).  Online.
  • Search the AFSC database for additional Harbor Porpoise publications
Recent MML Harbor Porpoise Posters
Harbor Porpoise Stock Assessment Reports

Stocks that are not currently recognized are noted in gray italics.
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