Thursday, April 21, 2011

Finless Porpoise

Neophocaena phocaenoides
Did you know that there are only six living porpoise species? And that today's animal, the Finless Porpoise, can be found in both salt and fresh water, making it the only freshwater Porpoise? Finless Porpoises live in coastal waters off of Asia, but there are also small populations that live in rivers, including the Yangzte. They typically swim in small groups of 2-3 individuals, though larger pods of up to 20 have been rarely observed.

Finless Porpoises, as their name suggests, do not have a dorsal fin. Instead, they have a very low ridge on their backs. They also have unfused neck vertebrae, which allows them to move their head in different directions. Overall, they are a small, streamlined Cetecean species, and they feed on Krill, Fish, Octopuses, and a handful of other invertebrate species.

Gill nets and other types of fishing gear are some of the biggest causes for Finless Porpoise death. They are also very susceptible to water pollution, habitat change, and habitat loss. The Yangtze subpopulation is quite rare, and estimates are that there are less than 2,000 left.

Finless Porpoises have appeared recently in the news, when a young Porpoise was washed a mile inland during the Japanese Tsunami. The Porpoise was rescued and returned to the ocean.

IUCN Status :  Vulnerable
Location : Asian coastal waters
Size : Length up to 5ft (1.55m), Weight up to 100lbs (45kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Cetacea -- Suborder : Odontoceti
Family : Phocoenidae -- Genus : Neophocaena -- Species : N. phocaenoides

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