Phoecoenids include 6 species placed in 4 genera. They are found in the coastal waters of all oceans and seas of the northern hemisphere; along the coast of most of South America; and in some areas of southeastern Asia. They are also known from a few Asian rivers.
Members of this family are relatively small, from 1.5 to around 2 m in length and up to about 120 kg in weight. They have short jaws and no beak. A dorsal fin is present and triangular in some species, reduced to a ridge in others, and enormous in male Phocoena dioptrica. The flippers are fairly narrow and pointed. Some species are conspicuously marked with black, white, and gray; others are uniformly colored.
The skull is like that of the closely related delphinids, but it has distinctive swellings on the premaxillae anterior to the nares. The facial depression is broadly expanded posteriorly and hides the small zygomatic arches. The toothrows diverge posteriorly. The mandibular symphysis is relatively short, less than 20% of the length of the ramus. The teeth are numerous (from 15/15 to 30/30), and distinctively spade-shaped with 2- or 3-lobed crowns.
Some phoecoenids (Phocoena and Neophocaena) generally occupy bays, estuaries, and inlets close to shore. These porpoises are relatively slow, travelling in small groups of fewer than 6 individuals (occasionally up to 20). Others (Phocoenoides dalli) are found in offshore waters, are fast and agile swimmers, and are sometimes found in groups of up to thousands of individuals. Phoecoenids feed on a wide variety of fish and invertebrates.
porpoise with purpose!
families of Mysticetes: Balaenidae -- right and bowhead whales Neobalaenidae -- pygmy right whale Balaenopteridae -- rorquals Eschrichtiidae -- gray whale families of Odontocetes: Physeteridae -- sperm whale Monodontidae -- narwhal and white whale Ziphiidae -- beaked whales Delphinidae -- ocean dolphins Phocoenidae -- porpoises Platanistidae -- river dolphins
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