Neophocaena phocaenoides   (Cuvier,  1829) (Porpoise)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Taxonomy
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order:Cetartiodactyla
Family:Phocoenidae

Description
Size: New born: 70-80 cm; Adult: 1.9 m.

Weight: 30-45 kg.

Color: The color of the Porpoise is a uniform grey, often with a bluish tinge. The lips and chin of this animal are lighter.

Finless Porpoises, like the Irrawaddy Dolphin Orcaella brevirostris, has been described as presenting the appearance of a small Beluga Delphinapterus leucas. It has a small head, with the blowhole on top. The melon is rounded, and there is no beak. The mouthline is curved upwards towards the eyes. Behind the blowhole, there is a slight depression, like a neck crease. The animal enjoys flexibility of the neck, and the head can be rotated freely. Interestingly, this is a facility also enjoyed by the Beluga, which is classified in a different family.

The dorsal fin is completely absent, and an area of the skin behind where the skin should be is dark and covered with small, rounded projections. The Finless Porpoise’s flippers are relatively long, with blunt tips. There are 13-22 pairs of spade-shaped teeth in each jaw. The shape of the teeth, and the tubercles on the back where the dorsal fin should be, make it easy to identify a dead Finless Porpoise.

Generally found in pairs, groups of up to 10 Finless Porpoises are sometimes seen. They are said to make a chirping sound. The name ‘Finless Black Porpoise’ was once widely used for this species. This is not very apt, as the porpoise turns black only after death. Young calves are said to travel clinging to their mother’s backs. The brain size of the Finless Porpoise is unusually large for an animal of its size. The average weight of the brain is close to 500 gm in this species.


Synonym (s)
Delphinus phocaenoides G. Cuvier, 1829
(Basionym)
Delphinus melas Temminck, 1841
Delphinapterus molagan Owen, 1866
Neomeris kurrachiensis Murray, 1884
Neomeris melas Temminck, 1841
Neomeris phocaenoides Gray, 1847
Neomeris phocaenoides True, 1889
Neophocaena phocoenoides Robineau, 1990
Nomerus melus Coues, 1890
Phaoecana phocaenoides G. M. Allen, 1923
Phocaena phocaenoides Blanford, 1888
Phocoena phocaenoides Robinson & Kloss, 1918

Common Name (s)
• Southeast Asiatic Porpoise (English)
• Finless Porpoise (English)
• Little Indian Porpoise (English)
• Black Porpoise (English)
• Bhulga (Marathi)
• Black Finless Porpoise
• Eleyan Eedi (Malayalam)
• Minikutty (Malayalam)
• Minikutty (Tamil)
• Ongil (Tamil)
• Molagan (Tamil)
• Indian Finless Porpoise (English)
• Finless Black Porpoise (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(They get entangled in gill nets. Pollution and habitat destruction is another threat to their survival. Specimens are used for display in aquarium. Deliberate explotation are also on record.)

Ecology
Habitat:  Estuarine, Coastal
Prey:  Small fish, squids, shrimps and plant materials.
IUCN Status:  Vulnerable

Biogeography


• West Bengal, Sundarban Mangrove Ecosystem INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands (Lat: 12.5) (Long: 92.75) INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA
• Maharashtra, Mumbai (Lat: 18.98) (Long: 72.83) INDIA
• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA (Record: 1866)
• Kerala, Trivandrum INDIA (Record: 1908)
• Maharashtra, Mumbai Harbour INDIA
• West Coast, Malabar INDIA (Record: 1827)
• Karnataka, Off Karwar INDIA (Record: 12/02/1965)
• Kerala, Off Kozhikode INDIA (Record: 10/021973)
• Kerala, Off Kozhikode Coast INDIA (Record: 1976)
• Goa, Zuari INDIA (Record: 20/02/1980)
• Orissa, Gahirmatha INDIA (Record: 01/1987-03/1987, 01/1986-03/1986)
• Tamil Nadu, Mandapam INDIA (Record: 08/07/1988)
• Tamil Nadu, Pillaimadam INDIA (Record: 11/08/1990)
• Tamil Nadu, Rameswaram INDIA (Record: 16/11/1990)
• Tamil Nadu INDIA (Record: 01/1992)
• Tamil Nadu, Porto Novo INDIA (Record: 29/01/1992)
• Kerala, Kozhikode Coast INDIA (Record: 1993)
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Orissa, Bhitarkanika INDIA
• Karnataka, Mangalore Harbour (Lat: 12.85) (Long: 74.81) INDIA (Record: 11/2005)
• Karnataka, Gangoli INDIA (Record: 25/11/2005)
• Karnataka, Malpe INDIA (Record: 17/11/2005)
• Karnataka, Mangalore INDIA (Record: 01/12/2005, 02/01/2006)

Literature Source(s)
  • Agarwal, VC and Alfred, JRB (1999) Handbook: Whales, dolphins and dugong from Indian seas ZSI, Calcutta 150 pp Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Alfred, JRB; Das, AK and Sanyal, AK (Eds.) (1998) Faunal diversity in India ZSI, Calcutta 1-497 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre Available at - http://www.unep-wcmc.org/
  • (1994) The red data book on Indian animals Vertebrata part 1 ZSI, Kolkata 1-534 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Molur, S and Walker, S (1998) Mammals of India. Report summary 1998 Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13(9) 7 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Lal Mohan, RS (1998) Dolphins of Kanyakumari coast and its status Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13 55-57 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at - www.ias.ac.in/currsci/nov252002/1210.pdf
  • Hussain, SM Brief report on biodiversity in the coastal areas of Pakistan p 113
  • Subba Rao, NV and Sastry, DRK (2005) Fauna of Marine National Park, Gulf of Kuchchh (Gujarat) ZSI 79 pp Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Baldwin, R (1995) Whale and dolphin research in the UAE Tribulus 5(2)
  • Vazirani, TG (1980) Dytiscidae: Coleoptera from Himachal Pradesh with description of a new species Bulletin of the Zoological Survey of India 3(1-3) 27-30
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at - http://www.marinespecies.org
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at - http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at - http://tnenvis.nic.in
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at - http://tnenvis.nic.in/PDF/coastal%20data.pdf
  • Encyclopedia of Life Available at - http://www.eol.org/
  • Chadha, S and Sekar, KC (1999) Bhitarkanika:myth and reality Nataraj publishers, Dehra Dun Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Yousuf, KSSM; Anoop, AK; Anoop, B; Afsal, VV; Vivekanandan, E; Kumarran, RP; Rajagopalan, M; Krishnakumar, PK and Jayasankar, P (2009) Observations on incidental catch of cetaceans in three landing centres along the Indian coast Marine Biodiversity Records Cambridge University Press 4 1-5 Available at - http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S175526720900075X
  • Jayasankar, P; Anoop, B; Rajgopalan, M; Yousuf, KMM; Reynold, P; Krishnakumar, PK; Afsal, VV and Krishnan, AA (2009) Indian Efforts on the Inventorization of Marine Mammal Species for their Conservation and Management Asian Fisheries Science Asian Fisheries Society, Manila, Philippines 22 143-155 Available at - http://eprints.cmfri.org.in/5695/2/AFS_Mar_%2822%292009%5B1%5D.pdf
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at - http://zsi.gov.in/checklist/Marine%20mammals%20of%20India.pdf
  • Singh H.S (2003) Sea mammals in marine protected area in the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat State, India Indian Journal of Marine Science 258-262pp Available at - http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/4279/1/IJMS%2032(3)%20258-262.pdf
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at - http://nlbif.eti.uva.nl/bis/marine_mammals.php?menuentry=inleiding

Page last updated on:2012-11-07

Back to Search