Harbour Porpoise

Phocoena phocoena


A small, round-headed relative of the dolphins. Harbour Porpoises are most common closer to shore in relatively shallow water, where they hunt fish just beyond the waves. Usually seen as individuals or in small groups of up to 10. Much less acrobatic than dolphins, the most that you are likely to see of a Harbour Porpoise is the small, dark fin and rolling back, just noticeable above the water.

How to identify

Smaller and less energetic than dolphins, with a smaller, triangular dorsal fin. No beak. Dark grey in colour.

Where to find it

Found all around the UK.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Harbour Porpoises and other marine mammals are under threat from pollution in our seas. You can help to keep our seas and beaches clean by taking litter home. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Harbour Porpoise
Latin name
Phocoena phocoena
Seals, turtles and other marine mammals
Length: 1.4-2m Weight: 55-65kg Average Lifespan: 12 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, listed under CITES Appendix II and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Also protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996