Photograph by Leonard Medlock on 9/11/08
Jeffrey's Ledge Pelagic. These animals are behaving in
their most typical fashion, swimming away from the boat.
They are visible because the surface of the ocean is
According to Kinze, Porpoises are related to dolphins, but in a
separate family Phocoenidae. There are 6 special in the
family. Porpoises are chiefly coastal and only a single member lives
in the North Atlantic.
Elusive Inshore Mammals
"The Harbor Porpoise inhabits coastal water
including fjords, bays, estuaries. and harbors".¹
They are actually very common in the Gulf of
Maine where they are usually seen very quickly when they happen to
surface near the boat and immediately swim away.
They occur in small groups or even as solitary animals.
Where To See
You may catch a glimpse of these delightful little creatures
on any whale watch. They are best seen when the water is
calm as they can hide behind even very small waves. Look
quickly as they will not stay around long. Usually what
happens is that the naturalist sees a splash by the boat and by
the time they announce "Harbor Porpoise" they are long
Northern hemisphere in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In
the Atlantic from Cape Hatteras to West Greenland including the
Gulf of St. Lawrence, but not Hudson Bay. On the
European side they are found near IIceland, and the
Faeroe Islands, and from western Africa north to the Barents
Sea. Not found in the Mediteranean. In the
Pacific from Monterey Bay and central Japan to the Chukchi Sea,
including the Aleutian chain, Sea of Okhotsk and northern Sea of
Jason Lambert on the Jeffrey's Ledge Pelagic on 9/11/08.
These Harbor Porpoise were unusually
cooperative and surfaced close to the boat. The more
typical behavior is to avoid boats. Had these animals
been further from the boat they would have been missed
behind the small waves.
Pieter Guide to Marine Mammals of the World Alfred
A. Knopf New York