Harbour Porpoise

Phocoena phocoena

The harbour porpoise is the smallest species of cetacean found in Scottish waters, being less than two metres long.

It weighs about 45 kilos and is usually seen in small groups or schools. A porpoise breathes between 4 and 5 times every minute. As it surfaces to do breathes you may hear the breath as the first part of the back is seen at the surface, followed by the dorsal fin and then the last part of the back. It gives the visual impression that it is twisting.

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Discover more about the Harbour Porpoise

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When to see

They tend to stay in coastal waters in the summer and can be quite close to shore. In winter, they spend more time out at sea. Porpoises are shy creatures and rarely associate with boats, however are quite common in certain areas. You are unlikely to see harbour porpoises in the vicinity of bottlenose dolphins as porpoises tend to keep well out of their way!

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Where to see

Found out to sea and closer inshore right around the coasts of Scotland travelling into sea lochs and up into river estuaries.

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Did you know?

In a recent study of harbour porpoises found dead in the Moray Firth, there was evidence that over a hundred had died after being attacked by the much larger bottlenose dolphin. This mortality rate is however dwarfed by the estimated number of 8000 harbour porpoises killed by gill nets set in the North Sea by the European sand eel fishing fleets every year.

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Related species

Bottlenose Dolphin

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

They tend to stay in coastal waters in the summer and can be quite close to shore. In winter, they spend more time out at sea. Porpoises are shy creatures and rarely associate with boats, however are quite common in certain areas. You are unlikely to see harbour porpoises in the vicinity of bottlenose dolphins as porpoises tend to keep well out of their way!

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

Found out to sea and closer inshore right around the coasts of Scotland travelling into sea lochs and up into river estuaries.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

In a recent study of harbour porpoises found dead in the Moray Firth, there was evidence that over a hundred had died after being attacked by the much larger bottlenose dolphin. This mortality rate is however dwarfed by the estimated number of 8000 harbour porpoises killed by gill nets set in the North Sea by the European sand eel fishing fleets every year.

Dolphin Icon Blue
Related species

Bottlenose Dolphin

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

They tend to stay in coastal waters in the summer and can be quite close to shore. In winter, they spend more time out at sea. Porpoises are shy creatures and rarely associate with boats, however are quite common in certain areas. You are unlikely to see harbour porpoises in the vicinity of bottlenose dolphins as porpoises tend to keep well out of their way!

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

Found out to sea and closer inshore right around the coasts of Scotland travelling into sea lochs and up into river estuaries.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

In a recent study of harbour porpoises found dead in the Moray Firth, there was evidence that over a hundred had died after being attacked by the much larger bottlenose dolphin. This mortality rate is however dwarfed by the estimated number of 8000 harbour porpoises killed by gill nets set in the North Sea by the European sand eel fishing fleets every year.

Dolphin Icon Blue
Related species

Bottlenose Dolphin

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