Harbour Porpoise

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Muc Mhara

The harbour porpoise is the smallest cetacean in the world and is only found in the northern hemisphere. It is very common in Ireland and, as its name implies, it likes to stay in coastal waters. It is sometimes known as the 'sea pig', which is a direct translation from its Irish name muc mhara.

The harbour porpoise has a stubby, rounded snout. It has a dark grey colour across its back and a much paler, whiter colour underneath.

It only has a very small triangular dorsal fin (on its back) in comparison to its whale relations.

Some whale fins can be up to two feet long!

Most harbour porpoises will grow to about 1.5 metres long and weigh from 45-85 kilos. When it comes to feeding time, they usually eat smaller fish, like sand eels, mackerel and crustaceans.

Did you know that a porpoise needs to eat about 10% of its own body weight every day to survive?

Even though the harbour porpoise is related to the dolphin, it is a much shyer, more bashful animal and won't usually approach boats or follow them into harbour.

In some cases, bottlenose dolphins have even been known to kill harbour porpoises. They do not eat them, but see them as competition for decreasing food supplies.