T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Porpoise (Spectacled) Phocoena dioptrica

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Infraorder: Cetacea
Family: Phocoenidae
Genus: Phocoena
Species: P. dioptrica
Binomial name: Phocoena dioptrica
Synonym: Australophocaena dioptrica.
Common name: Spectacled porpoise 

The spectacled porpoise (Phocoena dioptrica) is a rarely seen member of the porpoise family that has only been observed at sea on a handful of occasions. The widely scattered records of this species suggest that the spectacled porpoise has a circumpolar distribution in waters ranging between 5.5 and 9.5 degrees Celsius. In the Pacific, it extends as far north as Tasmania and New Zealand. 

The spectacled porpoise is a robust animal with a rounded head and no beak. The mouth is small, and the teeth are spade or peg-shaped. The black lips are also surrounded by white. It can be distinguished from other porpoises by a characteristic white ring around the black eye patch. This ring around the eyes gives the animals their common name. 
The spectacled porpoise is distinctive for its unusual colouration, small head, peculiar facial features, and proportionately very big dorsal fin of the male. The black upperparts contrast sharply with the well-defined white underparts. They grow up to 224 cm in length and can weight up to 115 kg. The difference between a dolphin and a porpoise is that the latter did not have a beak like a dolphin, and its teeth were also quite different. Rather than being cone- shaped like dolphins, they were more spade-shaped like human teeth.
Based on its tooth structure and the stomach contents of four-stranded individuals, it is likely that they feed on algae, fish, squid, shrimp, molluscs and crustaceans.



A graphic showing a spectacled porpoise's size compared to a human.


Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/