It was only recently that the ‘finless porpoise’ was split into two distinct species – the ‘Indo-Pacific’ and the ‘narrow-ridged.’
Within the latter there are even two additional sub-species – the Yangtze finless porpoise (N. a. asiaeorientalis) and the East Asian finless porpoise or Sunameri (N. a. sunameri). This really illustrates the incredible variety of cetacean species (whales, dolphins and porpoises) that inhabit our seas and rivers.
Other names: Yangtze finless porpoise, Finless porpoise Black finless porpoise, Black porpoise
IUCN conservation status: Endangered
Yangtze River sub-population: Critically Endangered
What do narrow-ridged finless porpoise look like?
Small and stream-lined and as their name suggests, lacking a dorsal fin. Instead of a dorsal fin they have a ‘narrow-ridge’ running the length of their back, which is covered in wart-like tubercles. They also don’t have a beak and have a pretty bulbous head relative to their size.
What’s life like for a narrow-ridged finless porpoise?
Busy. Finless porpoise are very active and have been seen to ‘dart’ about just under the water surface, changing direction quickly and often. They prefer to be either alone or in small groups although groups of us to 50 individuals have been sighted in Chinese waters. They are quite cryptic and are known to be very shy of boats and humans, the latter of which present multiple threats to the very existence of these little porpoises.
What do narrow-ridged finless porpoise eat?
Being amongst the smallest species of whale, dolphin and porpoise the diet of the narrow-ridged finless porpoise is composed of some of the smaller examples of bottom-dwelling fish, crabs, shrimp, octopus, squid and even cuttlefish.
Where do narrow-ridged finless porpoise live?
Narrow-ridged finless porpoises prefer shallow, coastal waters and can be found from the Taiwan Strait north into the Yellow Sea and into southern Japan. As its name suggests, the Yangtze finless porpoise is found only in the Yangtze River and some associated lakes and estuaries.
Heading towards extinction?
The Yangtze finless porpoise used to share its habitat – the Yangtze River – with the Yangtze River dolphin or baiji, declared extinct in 2006. Unfortunately, this little porpoise may be headed the same way as it is currently classified as Critically Endangered.
Narrow-ridged finless porpoises need your help
The main threats...
Stop hunting – whether used opportunistically as a result of bycatch, or the victims of directed hunts, the narrow-ridged finless porpoise is under serious threat.
Entanglement in fishing gear – their preference for nearshore waters brings them into close contact with a variety of fishing gears.
Healthy Seas – pollution is one of the burgeoning threats facing narrow-ridged finless porpoise throughout their range.
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