Harbour porpoises are the smallest and most common cetaceans in European waters. They are also one of the shortest lived, rarely surviving beyond 12 years of age. Harbour porpoises favour the shallow waters of coasts and estuaries and it is not uncommon for them to travel a considerable distance up river. Being social by nature, these porpoises travel and patrol for fish in small schools of around 12 individuals. Although they don't ever clear the water, they do break the surface in a smooth black arc, often making a loud noise as they blow.
Scientific name: Phocoena phocoena
The following habitats are found across the Harbour porpoise distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Unknown
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.
One third of known species are under threat - do they have more than a future on film? We've unearthed footage of some remarkable animals, plants and habitats that are facing an imminent threat to their survival.
When it comes to summer holidays, there's no better place than the seaside and if you know where to look you'll be surprised at the wildlife you can find.