Neophocaena phocaenoides   (Cuvier,  1829) (Porpoise)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

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
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.)

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


• 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)
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  • 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 -
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Page last updated on:2012-11-07

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