Spectacled porpoise

Phocoena dioptrica

Despite very few sightings at sea, the spectacled porpoise is the second most commonly stranded cetacean in Tierra del Fuego in South America.

Porpoise illustration
Male Female Calf
Maximum length 2.25m 2.05m 1.0m
Maximum weight 115kg Unknown Unknown

IUCN conservation status: Endangered

What do spectacled porpoises look like?

One of the larger members of the porpoise family, the spectacled porpoise is stocky and almost beakless. The flippers are close to the small head which sports black lips and white rings around the eyes, which give the spectacled porpoise its name. One of the most distinctive characteristics of the spectacled porpoise is the dorsal fin. In males, it is large and rounded with a large base, while that of females is smaller and more triangular. Colouration is two-tone with the back being blue-black and a striking contrast to the bright white belly and lower flanks. Like all porpoises, their teeth are 'spade-shaped' (dolphins' teeth are conical).

What’s life like for a spectacled porpoise?

Not much is known about the behaviour of the spectacled porpoise. They are inconspicuous, fast swimmers, generally avoid boats and, as with other members of the porpoise family, are not thought to be highly acrobatic. In the few documented sightings, spectacled porpoises have been observed in groups of between one and five individuals.

It is not known how what the total population of spectacled porpoises is.

What do spectacled porpoise eat?

Only a handful of stomach contents have ever been examined, and they were found to contain anchovies and shrimp.

Where do spectacled porpoise live?

Although spectacled porpoises are seen most often around the south-eastern coast of South America, it is thought that their range extends in a circumpolar band around the southern hemisphere and within temperate and cold sub-Antarctic waters. Individual porpoises have been seen in oceanic waters, off the coast of Tasmania, and around a variety of offshore islands.

If you would like to supply WDC with images of spectacled porpoises please contact us.

Distribution map

Spectacled porpoise distribution map

Spectacled porpoises need your help

The main threats...

  • Pollution – pollution (and climate change) is one of the burgeoning threats facing spectacled porpoise throughout their range.
  • Fishing gear – spectacled porpoise are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.

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