Neophocaena phocaenoides - Neofocena

(Neophocaena phocaenoides)

Note 1




























Neophocaena phocaenoides

Common name

: neofocena


  • Body length: 1.50 - 1.90 m
  • Weight: 30 - 45 kg
  • Lifespan:---
  • Sexual maturity:2 years


There Neophocaena phocaenoides commonly known as neofocena of the family Phocoenidae it lives along the coasts and in the mouths and estuaries of rivers (occasionally also in lakes) of Southeast Asia. In particular, we find it starting from the coasts of Iran to Japan, including some islands of Indonesia.

It lives in shallow waters, less than 50 m deep and the waters can be both fresh and salty.


The neofocena is a very small porpoise that does not exceed one meter and ninety centimeters in length for a weight of 30-45 kg. It has a dark gray-blue body, so much so that it appears almost black; in the ventral part the color fades to become very pale and pale. It has been observed that the color varies depending on where the cetacean lives: in the waters of the rivers the color of the coat tends to be almost black while in the sea it is much paler.

Note 2

A peculiarity of the neofocena that earned him in the name of black porpoise is that when it dies the skin immediately becomes black.

It is devoid of the dorsal fin and has only a small crest, rich in sensory papillae, whose function seems to be both of orientation (given that the neophocena often lives in murky waters where sight cannot help it) and as a "saddle" for the little ones they lean on when they swim with their mother.


The neofocena is a fairly solitary cetacean that does not like large groups: gatherings of no more than four individuals or only the mother with her young have been observed.

The neofocena is a slow animal that does not pirouette out of the water and its immersion times are very short, maximum 15 seconds.


The diet is based on squid and small fish. It has been observed that he is a very aggressive hunter.


Sexual maturity in the Neophocena is reached at the age of two and the mating period is variable depending on where the cetacean lives. The gestation lasts about 10 months at the end of which only one baby is born between February and August that weighs about 7 kg. The young is weaned at the age of 7-10 months and sexual maturity is reached at the age of two, both in the male and in the female.

Generally, the young remain attached to the mother's back, in correspondence with the sensory papillae, practically functioning as a kind of saddle.


The neofocena is classified in the IUNC Red list (2009.1) among vulnerable animals, VULNERABLE (VU): it is therefore considered to be at high risk of extinction in nature. This conclusion reached by the IUNC was dictated by the fact that the main causes of the death of this cetacean are constantly on the rise, namely: being trapped in fishing nets or being directly fished for human consumption, as happens in Korea. As a coastal species, the neofocena is also affected by habitat loss and degradation, boat traffic and pollution.

The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, known as the "Washington Convention") which includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but whose trade must be controlled to avoid overexploitation.


There Neophocaena phocaenoides it is hunted by man for its flesh, skin and oil.


(1) Image not copyrighted and licensed under Creative Commons
(2) Image taken from - Die Welt der Wale und Delfine

Neophocaena phocaenoides - Neofocena

(Cuvier, 1829) - Finless porpoise

Distinctive Characteristics

As the name implies, finless porpoises have no dorsal fin, and this is their most distinctive characteristic. In some ways, they resemble small, slender white whales. The head is beakless the rounded forehead rises steeply from the snout tip. The body shape, in general, is more slender than in other porpoises. The finless porpoise is soft and mushy, and the neck is very flexible. Instead of a dorsal fin, the finless porpoise has an area of ​​small bumps or tubercles on its back, running from just forward of midback to the tail stock. The trailing edge of the flukes is concave and the flippers are large, ending in rounded tips. Regional differences in body size and morphology have been documented, with Yangtze River animals apparently representing a separate stock.

The common name that was used in the past, “finless black porpoise,” apparently resulted from descriptions of dead animals, after post-mortem darkening. In most areas, finless porpoises are gray in color, with lighter areas on the throat and around the genitals. Older animals are generally lighter gray than juveniles. In the Yangtze River population, they are very dark gray, nearly black.

Tooth counts range from 13 to 22 in each tooth row.

Can well confused with

The smooth back of the finless porpoise should make it easy to distinguish from other species, such as the Irrawaddy dolphin, baiji, and Ganges River dolphin, which share parts of its range.

Adults of this species reach about 1.9 m in length (males are slightly larger than females). Finless porpoises are apparently about 70 to 80 cm at birth.

Geographical Distribution

Warm, coastal Indo-Pacific waters, both fresh and marine, are home to the finless porpoise. The range runs from northern Japan to the Persian Gulf, including many rivers in the Asian subcontinent (one of the best known populations is in the Yangtze River of China).

Biology and Behavior

Finless porpoises are generally found as singles, pairs, or in groups of up to 12, although aggregations of up to about 50 have been reported. Like other porpoises, their behavior tends to be not as energetic and showy as that of dolphins. They do not ride bow waves, and in some areas appear to be shy of boats. Mothers have been seen carrying calves on the denticulated area on their backs. In the Yangtze River, finless porpoises are known to leap from the water and perform "tail stands."

Reproduction in most areas has not been well studied. Reports indicate that calving in the Yangtze River occurs between February and April, and in Japan it occurs between April and August.

Small fishes, squids, and shrimps form the diet of finless porpoises. They also apparently ingest some plant material, including leaves and rice.

Finless porpoises are known to be taken in various gillnet fisheries throughout their range, including the Yangtze River. They are also incidentally taken in beach seines in India. Direct exploitation with guns, harpoons, and “fish forks” used to occur in China, and previously some incidental catches were sold for human consumption in Japan. Pollution and habitat destruction may also be factors in the status of this species. Some porpoises have been captured live for aquariums in Japan.

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetacea
Suborder Odontoceti
Family Phocoenidae
Genus Neophocaena
Species Neophocaena phocaenoides

Status in World Register of Marine Species

Accepted name: Neophocaena phocaenoides (Cuvier, 1829)

Scientific synonyms and common names

Neophocaena phocaenoides (Cuvier, 1829)

Finless porpoise [English]
Indische bruinvis [Dutch]
Marsopa lisa or sin aleta [Spanish]
Marsouin aptère [French]

FAO Species Code

PHOCO Neoph 1 [FAO Species code]
PFI [FAO Species code]

Sorry, there are no literature references available for this species.

N. phocaenoides 1 (A black-and-white drawing of the habitus)
N. phocaenoides dv skull (Dorsal view of the skull)
N. phocaenoides vv skull (Ventral view of the skull)
N. phocaenoides lv skull (Lateral view of the skull)
N. phocaenoides 2 (Mother with young)
N. phocaenoides map (Distribution map)

You can continue searching for Neophocaena phocaenoides on one of these Web sites:

Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise - Neophocaena phocaenoides

Jul 14, 2018 # 1 2018-07-14T08: 52

Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise - Neophocaena phocaenoides

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Subclass: Eutheria
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Odontoceti
Family: Phocoenidae
Genus: Neophocaena
Species: Neophocaena phocaenoides

There are two distinct subspecies of finless porpoise.
1. Black Finless Porpoise ( Neophocaena phocaenoides phocaenoides ) is found in the Indian ocean and South China Sea
2. YellowSea / Japanese Finless Porpoise ( Neophocaena phocaenoides sunameri ) in northern China, Korea and along the coast of Japan

Finless Porpoise range
The Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaeniodes) is one of six porpoise species. In the waters around Japan, at the northern end of its range, it is known as the sunameri. A freshwater population found in the Yangtze River in China is known locally as the jiangzhu or "river pig".

The Finless Porpoise lives in the coastal waters of Asia, especially around India, China, Indonesia and Japan. At the western end, their range includes the length of the western coast of India and continues up into the Persian Gulf. Throughout their range, the porpoises stay in shallow waters (up to 50m [160 ft]), close to the shore, in waters with soft or sandy seabeds. In exceptional cases they have been encountered as far as 160 kilometers (100 miles) off-shore in the East China and Yellow Seas, albeit still in shallow water.

Physical description
As its name suggests, the Indo-Pacific finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) lacks a dorsal fin, and instead has a ridge that runs down the middle of its back. The Indo-Pacific finless porpoise can also be distinguished by its rounded head, which lacks an apparent beak. This small marine mammal has a relatively slender body, which is dark to pale gray on the upper side and lighter on the underside. Coloration is paler in juveniles, developing into an almost black coloration in mature adults. A scattering of horny tubercles is found on the dorsal ridge, which may create an anti-slip surface when the female carries its calf on its back. However, it is more likely that the tubercles act as sensory organs, with each tubercle containing numerous nerve endings.

Finless Porpoises are reported to eat fish and shrimp in the Yangtze River, and fish, shrimp and squid in the Yellow Sea / Bohai area and off Pakistan. In Japanese waters they are known to eat fish, shrimp, squid, cuttle fish and octopuses. Finless Porpoises are opportunistic feeders utilizing various kinds of available food items available in their habitat. Seasonal changes in their diets have not been studied. They also apparently ingest some plant material when living in estuaries, mangroves, and rivers including leaves, rice, and eggs deposited on vegetation.

Finless Porpoises are generally found as singles, pairs, or in groups of up to 12, although aggregations of up to about 50 have been reported. Recent data suggests, that the basic unit of a Finless Porpoise pod is a mother / calf pair or two adults, and that schools of three or more individuals are aggregations of these units or of solitary individuals. Social structure seems to be underdeveloped in the species, and the mother / calf pair is probably the only stable social unit.

Behavior and reproduction
Very little is known about the breeding biology of the Indo-Pacific finless porpoise. Female finless porpoises are thought to calve every two years, with the peak calving season varying with location. For example, on the Pacific coast of Japan calving takes place in May and June. It is estimated that the gestation period of species in the genus Neophocaena around 11 months and that the female feeds the calf for approximately 7 months. The finless porpoises is known to reach sexual maturity at 4 to 9 years of age and lives for up to 25 years

Swimming style
Although they show no acrobatics in the water, Finless Porpoises are believed to be very active swimmers. They typically swim just beneath the surface of the water and roll to one side when surfacing to breathe. This rolling movement disturbs very little water on the surface, so they are often overlooked when rising to breathe. Surfacing generally lasts for one minute, as they take 3 to 4 quick successive breaths, then quickly submerge into the water. The Finless Porpoise often surfaces a great distance from the point where it dives beneath the water's surface.

There are not enough data to place Finless Porpoises on the endangered species list, except in China, where they are endangered. Since this species is the most coastal of all porpoises, it has the most interaction with humans. This interaction often puts the Finless Porpoise at risk. Like other porpoises, large members of this species are killed by entanglement in gill nets. Except for being briefly hunted after World War II due to the lack of seaworthy fishing boats, Finless Porposes have never been widely hunted in Japan. It is a species protected since 1930 at the area around Awajima Island, Takehara and this coverage had since been extended to all Japanese coastal waters. The primary danger to the species is the environmental degradation. In addition, unlike other members of this family, Finless porpoises have lived under captivity for over 15 years.

There are no well established estimates of the animals' abundance. However, a comparison of two surveys, one from the late 1970s and the other from 1999–2000 shows a decline in population and distribution. Scientists believe that this decline has been ongoing for decades and that the current population is just a fraction of its historic levels. A 2006 expedition estimated that fewer than 400 of animals survived in the Yangtze River.


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Behavior
  • 3 Reproductive cycle
  • 4 Toxic water threat
  • 5 Plastic pollution impact
  • 6 Distributions and watching
  • 7 Cantonese slang
  • 8 Eastern Taiwan Strait population
  • 9 Conservation
  • 10 Timeline of main events
  • 11 See also
  • 12 References
  • 13 External links

An adult Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is gray, white or pink and may appear as an albino dolphin to some. Uniquely, the population along the Chinese coast has pink skin, [4] and the pink color originates not from a pigment, but from blood vessels which were overdeveloped for thermoregulation. The body length is 2 to 3.5 m (6 ft 7 in to 11 ft 6 in) for adults 1 m (3 ft 3 in) for infants. An adult weighs 150 to 230 kg (330 to 510 lb). Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins live up to 40 years, as determined by the analysis of their teeth.

At birth, the dolphins are black. They change to gray, then pinkish with spots when young. Adults are gray, white or pink.

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins come to the water surface to breathe for 20 to 30 seconds before diving deep again, for two to eight minutes. Dolphin calves, with smaller lung capacities, surface twice as often as adults, staying underwater for one to three minutes. Adult dolphins rarely stay under water for more than four minutes. They sometimes leap completely out of the water. They may also rise up vertically from the water, exposing the dorsal half of their bodies. A pair of protruding eyes allows them to see clearly in both air and water.

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are sociable creatures and live in groups of three to four. Female dolphins become mature at ten years old, while the males become mature at 13 years old. They usually mate from the end of summer to autumn. Infant dolphins are usually born eleven months after the mating. Mature females can give birth every three years, and parental care lasts until their offspring can find food themselves.

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is threatened by both habitat loss and pollution. Conservationists warn that Hong Kong may lose its rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as pink dolphins for their unique color, unless China takes urgent action against pollution and other threats. Their numbers in Hong Kong waters have fallen from an estimated 158 in 2003 to just 78 in 2011, with a further decline expected by the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society. A tour guide from Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spotted a group of pink dolphins helping a mother support the body of her dead calf above the water in an attempt to revive it. The scene, captured on video and widely shared on Facebook, has raised fresh concerns about the dwindling population in a city where dolphin watching is a tourist attraction. "We’re 99 percent certain the calf died from toxins in the mother’s milk, accumulated from polluted seawater," said Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spokeswoman Janet Walker, who added it was the third such incident reported in April alone. Fewer than 2,500 of the mammals survive in the Pearl River Delta, the body of water between Macau and Hong Kong, with the majority found in Chinese waters and the rest in Hong Kong. [5]

The subject of plastic pollution is a global phenomenon that has no end in sight. Plastic pollution is widespread across all entangling oceans due to their buoyant and durable properties that allow for sorption of toxicants to plastic while traveling through the environment. [6] [7] This lead researchers to the conclusion that synthetic polymers are hazardous to marine life and should be declared as a hazardous waste type. There are many transit paths that allow for plastics and pollutions to enter oceans. Freshwater waste can enter oceans by rivers delta or estuary (where rivers meet the ocean). Human populations discarding their waste directly into marine waters. Through photo-degradation and other forms of weathering processes that aid in plastics fragmentation and dispersal. Mass quantities of fragmented plastics - along with pollution are aggregated in subtropical gyres ocean gyres. [7] Plastic accumulation is not limited to ocean gyres closed bays, gulfs and seas surrounded by densely populated coastlines and watersheds are all susceptible. [8]

"The Pearl River Delta is an estuary within the proximity of one of the many ocean gyres that the Humpback dolphin inhabits. A tour guide from Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spotted a group of pink dolphins helping a mother support the body of her dead calf above the water in an attempt to revive it. The scene, captured on video and widely shared on Facebook, has raised fresh concerns about the dwindling population in a city where dolphin watching is a tourist attraction. "We're 99 percent certain the calf died from toxins in the mother's milk, accumulated from polluted seawater, "said Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spokeswoman Janet Walker, who added it was the third such incident reported in April alone. Fewer than 2,500 of the mammals survive in the Pearl River Delta, the body of water between Macau and Hong Kong, with the majority found in Chinese waters and the rest in Hong Kong. " [5] (Refer to: Humans and the environment subsection above)

  • Microplastics: Very small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment (typically 5 mm).

Plastic pollution can severely affect all forms of marine life Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are specifically affected in an array of means.

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) are chronically exposed to organic pollutants since they inhabit shallow coastal waters that are often impacted by anthropogenic activities. Anthropogenic pollutants pose a risk to marine mammals that reside in coastal waters. Discharge of organic pollutants into marine environments has been shown to decrease water quality resulting in loss of habitats and a significant reduction in the species richness (Johnston and Roberts, 2009). [9] The loss of key pods have caused specie fragmentation, also due to habitat loss, which inclines species isolation decrease connectivity resulting in population decline. This loss in population is what lead this species to be labeled as near threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The consumption of plastics have adverse effects in marine mammals such as disease susceptibility, reproductive and developmental toxicity. [9] Constant absorption of organic pollutants like plastic can be transferred into the dolphin's tissues and organs through an ingestion pathway that is impacting megafauna, lower trophic levels and predators (not limited to Indo-Pacific) [10] Organ toxicity can lead to organ failure, loss of offsprings and milk toxicity. If the dolphin is not consuming plastic directly then it can have plastic pollutants ingested though biomagnification and bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation is defined as the uptake of chemicals from the environment through dietary intake, dermal absorption or respiratory transport in air or water. This is a huge factor is plastic toxicity consumption in this species due to them having long lifespans which makes them susceptible to chronic exposure. Also, they contain a large quantity of blubber, lipids, which can result in an excess of toxicity storage in their tissues.

Echolocation is a main sense that all dolphins use to navigate and pinpoint prey and predators. Dolphins and whales use echolocation by bouncing high-pitched clicking sounds off underwater objects, similar to shouting and listening for echoes. The sounds are made by squeezing air through nasal passages near the blowhole. These sound-waves then pass into the forehead, where a big blob of fat called the melon focuses them into a beam. [11] This process can be interrupted by large composites of waste that can range from oil, plastics and noise. [12] The large blockage can refract sound-waves that give the dolphin a false inclination that there is possible prey, kin or a predator in the area. This can become confusing and frustrating which can lead to extreme stress and potential health issues. Despite echolocation being mostly affected by noise pollution it can altered by pollutants in marine water.

Noise pollution can also be caused by large clusters of plastic debris ocean gyre. The constant movement of ocean currents will cause the plastic debris, along with general-waste to clash together which entails a production of sound. Sound waves from the debris will travel through marine waters which can become an excess of sound waves traveling can render their use of echolocation. This can inherently leave this species blind since this is their primary sense.

In Hong Kong, boat trips to visit the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins have been running since the 1990s. [13] The dolphins mainly live in the waters of Lantau North, Southeast Lantau, the Soko Islands and Peng Chau. A code of conduct regulates dolphin-watching activity in Hong Kong waters. [14]

There have been some reports of dolphin watching practices that have further endangered the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, such as in Sanniang Bay dolphin sanctuary in Qinzhou [15] [16] and off Xiamen. [17] However, these generally are small, locally organized one-off tours or private pleasure boats that do not adhere to the Hong Kong Agricultural and Fisheries Department's voluntary code of conduct. [ citation needed ]

Nánpēng Islands Marine Sanctuary in Nan'ao County is also home to local pods. [18] The population in Leizhou Bay, Leizhou Peninsula, comprising nearly 1,000 animals and the second largest population in the nation, may also be targeted for future tourism. [19] Hepu National Sanctuary of Dugongs, and waters around Sanya Bay and other coasts adjacent on Hainan Island are home to some dolphins. [20] As the environment and local ecosystems recovery, dolphins' presences in nearby waters have been increasing such as vicinity to the nature sanctuary of Weizhou and Xieyang Islands. [21] [22] Gulf of Tonkin waters in Vietnam may have unstudied populations that may appear elsewhere such as along Xuân Thủy National Park and Hòn Dáu Island in Hải Phòng. [23]

The Cantonese language has a slang expression wu gei bak gei (often written as 烏 忌 白 忌, "black taboo white taboo") which means someone or something is a bad omen or a nuisance. The phrase originates from the Cantonese fisher people, because they claim the dolphins eat the fish in their nets. However, in formal Chinese, it should be written as 烏 鱀 白 鱀, with the gei originally in olden Chinese, meaning dolphins. The wu refers to the finless porpoises, which are black, and the bak, white, referring to Chinese river dolphins. These two species often interrupt and ruin the fishermen's catch. As years passed, because "dolphin" sounds the same as "bad luck", the meaning of the phrase changed. However, in Cantonese, wu refers to the calves of Chinese white dolphin and bak refers to the adults. Nowadays, dolphins are not called gei anymore, but 海豚 (you have tun), literally meaning "sea pig", with none of the negative connotations for pig found in English.

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins were first discovered along the west coast of Taiwan in 2002. Based on a survey done in 2002 and 2003, they are often found in waters [24] A study in 2008 found that the population of humpback dolphins, which occupies a linear range of about 500 km ^ 2 along the central west coast of Taiwan, is genetically distinct from all populations living in other areas. [25] And this population is called Eastern Taiwan Strait (ETS) population.

Taiwan is a densely populated island and highly developed area, which has many industrial development projects, especially along the west coast, where the ETS populations of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins live. Based on data collected between 2002 and 2005, the ETS population of humpback dolphins was less than 100 individuals. [24] Unfortunately, the newest data released in 2012 shows that only 62 individuals are left. It means during those 7 years, the population of humpback dolphins is being destroyed constantly and severely. A preliminary examination revealed that the ETS humpback dolphin population meets the IUCN Red List criteria for "Critically endangered". [26] Without further protection and regulation, this population will go extinct quickly. The ETS is listed as Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act by NOAA Fisheries since 2018. [27]

There are several facts that result in the decreasing number of ETS population of humpback dolphins. First, large-scale modification of the shoreline by industrial development including hydraulic filling for creating industrial or science parks, seawall construction and sand mining cause habitat fragmentation and diminish dolphin's habitats. In addition, exploitation of shoreline also contributes to toxic contamination flows into dolphin's habitats. The chemical pollution from industrial or agricultural and municipal discharge results in impaired health of dolphins, for instance, reproductive disorders, and compromised immune system. [28]

Second, fishing activities along the west coast of Taiwan are thriving, and cause many impacts on dolphins. Widespread and intensive use of gillnets and vessel strikes are potential threats for dolphins. Over exploitation of fish by fisheries' is another threat for the dolphin population. It has led to disturbance of marine food web or trophic level and reduces marine biodiversity. Therefore, dolphins have not enough prey to live on.

Still another problem is reduced amount of freshwater flows into estuaries from rivers. Since ETS population of humpback dolphins is closely associated with estuaries habitat, the elimination of freshwater discharge from rivers significantly decreases the amount of suitable habitats for dolphins. [24]

Hydroacoustic disturbance is another critical issue for dolphins. Sources of noise can come from dredging, pile driving, increased vessel traffic, seawall construction, and soil improvement. For all cetaceans, sound is vital for providing information about their environment, communicating with other individuals, and foraging also, they are very vulnerable and sensitive to the effects of noise. Elevated anthropogenic sound level causes many dysfunctions of their behaviors, and even leads to death. [24]

In addition to threats from anthropogenic activities, dolphins are potentially at the risk due to the small population size, which may result in inbreeding and decreased genetic and demographic variability. Finally, climate change causes more typhoons to hit the west coast of Taiwan and cause great disturbance to dolphins' habitats.

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is listed on Appendix II [29] of the convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix II [29] as it has an unfavorable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organized by tailored agreements. In the interim of 2003–2013, the number of these dolphins in the bay around Hong Kong has dwindled from a population of 159 to just 61 individuals, a population decline of 60% in the last decade. The population continues to be further threatened by pollution, vessel collision, overfishing, and underwater noise pollution. [30]

In addition to their natural susceptibility to anthropogenic disturbances, the Chinese white dolphin's late sexual maturity, reduced fecundity, reduced calf survival, and long calving intervals heavily curtails their ability to naturally cope with elevated rates of mortality. [31]

In recent years, Taiwan launched the largest Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin sanctuary on the Taiwanese coast, stretching from Miaoli County to Chiayi County. [32] The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is also covered by the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU).

Sedme Mammal Species of the World (siatos ke 2005), bata katca vas 3 apta ruldar:

  • (en) vuest-: Mammal Species of the World (v- 3, 2005): Neophocaena phocaenoides (G. Cuvier, 1829)
  • (en) vuest-: CITES: Neophocaena phocaenoides
  • (en) vuest-: UICN: katca Neophocaena phocaenoides (G. Cuvier, 1829)
  • (en, fr) vuest-: ITIS: Neophocaena phocaenoides (G. Cuvier, 1829)
  • (en) vuest-: Tree of Life Web Project: Neophocaena phocaenoides
  • (en) vuest-: Catalog of Life: Neophocaena phocaenoides (G. Cuvier, 1829)
  • (en) vuest-: Paleobiology Database: Neophocaena phocaenoides (G. Cuvier, 1829)
  • (en) vuest-: Animal Diversity Web: Neophocaena phocaenoides
  • (en) vuest-: NCBI: Neophocaena phocaenoides

Neophocaena phocaenoides - Neofocena

There are three Neophocaena phocaenoides subspecies recognized in Chinese waters: South China Sea population, N. p. phocaenoides Yellow Sea population, N. p. sunameri and Yangtze population, N. p. asiaeorientalis. The Yangtze population, or Yangtze finless porpoise, is the most endangered subspecies that only inhabits in the Yangtze River and its adjacent lake systems. It is a unique freshwater and relatively isolated population of the Neophocaena. The wild population of the Yangtze finless porpoise has decreased drastically in last two decades because it also inescapably suffers the impacts of the deterioration of the Yangtze environment as the Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) does, such as construction of hydropower facilities, overmuch and illegal fishing, busy water traffic, and heavily water pollution etc. It is no doubt that it is very important to protect and rehabilitate the natural Yangtze habitats. However, it seems that there is no chance for improvement of the Yangtze environment in the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is a practical measure to protect the animal from extinction by ex-situ conservation in a long run. Captive breeding is seen as one of essential practices of the ex-situ conservation for this animal. Obviously, the necessary knowledge on breeding biology plays a key role for successful captive breeding. To better understand the data on reproductive biology of the Yangtze finless porpoise, the previous works on the reproduction of the animal in recent 30 years are reviewed. And the present research status is expounded in terms of ecology, physiology, ethology, anatomy and histology. Some contradictions and controversial conclusions in previous studies are discussed in this paper. Furthermore, some important issues and urgent research points are also discussed to try to shed a light in further studies on breeding biology, and it is also hoped to provide a base for breeding program of this animal in captivity.

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Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise

The old name "finless black porpoise" is thought to come from the darkening of the bodies of these animals after death.

Scientific Name

Conservation Status (IUCN)

Vulnerable (high risk of endangerment in the wild)

Interesting Facts

Only recently separated from the Narrow-Ridged Finless Porpoise in classification (2008), with there likely being no interbreeding between the two species since the last glacial maximum even though both species share a reasonably large area of habitat in east Asia. This species is sometimes confused with dugongs (order Sirenia) on first glance because of the dark body and rounded flippers that sometimes break the surface of the water. Dugongs and the Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise overlap in range in some parts of the tropics.

Western edge of the range is the Persian Gulf, hugging the coast of Asia the range extends east along northern edge of the Indian ocean, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China.

No dorsal fin, with a wide dorsal ridge (3.5cm – 12.0 cm wide) that is lined with 10-25 rows of tubercles. The function of the tubercles is currently unknown. Adult animals are gray in color with lighter patches on their undersides. Geographical variation exists in the darkness of the grey colouration, as well as some variation with age.

Shy of boats and similarly to other porpoise species lacks showy or splashy behaviors. Seen as individuals, pairs or in groups of up about 20 animals. Tend to stay in shallow (less than 200m deep) coastal waters, with estuaries and mangrove swamps being preferred habitats. There seems to be a strong habitat preference for areas with soft or sandy bottoms. This species has been noted to spend up to 60% of their time at or near the surface of the water.

Sexual maturity between age 3-6 years

Thought to range between 18-25 years.

Small fish, crustaceans (demersal species, i.e: species that live close to the seabed), and cephalopods (squids, octopuses and cuttlefish).

The Indo-Pacific Finless porpoise is seen in lower densities than the related Narrow-Ridged Finless porpoise, though most studies have occurred in regions where the Narrow-Ridged species dominates or exists outside of the shared range of the two species. The waters surrounding Hong Kong are thought to be home to roughly 217 Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoises. The general population trend is decreasing, according to the IUCN.

Further Reading and References

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Recent scientific publications on Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides)
Gastric Braunina cordiformis and a review of helminth parasitism in the finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides)

Brazilian Journal of Veterinary Pathology (2019)

Physical modeling and validation of porpoises’ directional emission via hybrid metamaterials

National Science Review (2019)

Porpoises the world over: Diversity in behavior and ecology

Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Odontocetes (2019)

Differential population dynamics of a coastal porpoise correspond to the fishing effort in a large estuarine system

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems (2019)

Morphological analysis of the foramen magnum in finless porpoise (genus Neophocaena) using postmortem computed tomography 3D volume rendered images

Marine Mammal Science (2018)

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Conservation [ edit ]

The finless porpoise is listed on Appendix II [14] of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix II [14] as it has an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements.

Since this species remains in coastal waters, it has a high degree of interaction with humans, which often puts the finless porpoise at risk. Like other porpoises, large numbers of this species are killed by entanglement in gill nets. Except for being briefly hunted after World War II due to the lack of seaworthy fishing boats, finless porpoises have never been widely hunted in Japan. It is a species protected since 1930 at the area around Awajima Island, Takehara and this coverage had since been extended to all Japanese coastal waters. [ clarification needed ] The primary danger to the species is environmental degradation. Unlike other members of this family, finless porpoises have lived in captivity for over 15 years. [ citation needed ]

There are no well-established estimates of the animals' abundance. However, a comparison of two surveys, one from the late 1970s and the other from 1999–2000, shows a decline in population and distribution. Scientists believe this decline has been ongoing for decades, and the current population is just a fraction of its historical levels. Along the southern coast of Pakistan in the Arabian Sea it is declared as an endangered species. [ citation needed ]

Local conservation groups in Korea, such as at Yeosu, have started campaigning for the protection of the local populations. [15]

The WWF Website states that the finless porpoise is Critically endangered. [16] However, it is not the official 'IUCN Endangered Status'.

Video: All Porpoises Species - Species List

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