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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Cetacea · Phocoenidae · Phocoenoides dalli

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Phocoenoides dalli

Dall's Porpoise

Order: Cetacea
Family: Phocoenidae

Image of Phocoenoides dalli
Phocoenoides dalli - male,upper; female, lower
Click to enlarge this image. (62 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Dall's porpoises are highly acrobatic and are often seen swimming at high speed, darting to and fro, riding the bow waves of boats and engaging in slow rolls at the surface. Because they are black and white, boaters sometimes misidentify them as killer whales. They are small cetaceans, with robust bodies and small heads, flukes, and flippers. Reproductively, they differ from many cetaceans by breeding annually, calving in June or July and mating soon thereafter. This means females are nursing young while pregnant with next year’s offspring. A calf often stays with its mother until the next one is born. Females favor certain areas of the ocean for calving; at calving time, most males, juveniles, and females without offspring stay farther south. Dall's porpoises have very tiny teeth: each tooth is about the size of a grain of rice. They feed on a great variety of prey, from squid to deepwater fish to small schooling fish, which they swallow whole.

Sexual Dimorphism:

Males are larger than females.


Range: up to 2.2 m males; up to 2.1 m females


Range: up to 210 kg


True, F.W., 1885.  On a new species of porpoise, Phocaena dalli, from alaska, 8:95.  Proceedings of theU.S. National Museum, 8:95-98.


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Distribution of Phocoenoides dalli

Image of Phocoenoides dalli
Phocoenoides dalli - upper, showing rooster tail (with Phocoena phocoena)
Click to enlarge this image. (75kb)

Image of Phocoenoides dalli
Click to enlarge this image. (79kb)

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