Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Dolphins

Harbor Porpoise (Phocaena phocaena)

Description

The harbor porpoise is a rare cetacean to be found in the Aegean. It has a small, robust body with blunt beak, medium-sized triangular dorsal fin, and dark grey back with a white belly and throat. It has an average length of 1.3-1.8 meters and average weight of 61-77 kilograms, with females being slightly larger than males. Harbor porpoises are also a very shy species, living in small groups of 2-3 individuals or often solitarily while hunting. Seasonal movements are typically inshore-to-offshore and are influenced mostly by prey availability.

Habitat

Coastal and shallow offshore waters.

Diet

Primarily consume schooling fish, including herring and mackerel, but will occasionally eat squid and octopus.

Protection Status

Not much data pertaining the conservation status of the harbor porpoise is present, but it is listed as a species of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. Its main threats globally are residential and commercial development, fishing, invasive species and diseases, and pollution.

Interesting Fact: The harbor porpoise’s scientific name, Phocaena phocaena, comes from the Latinized form of the Greek word meaning “big seal” (seals belong to the family Phocidae)

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