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Dolphin Species: Dall's Porpoise
Phocoenoides dalli


Maximum length is 2.1m (7 feet), weighing up to 400 pounds. This porpoise is very stocky, so much so that the head and flukes look disproportionately small. Steep forehead, poorly defined beak. Dorsal fin is triangular to moderately falcate with a long base. Flippers are small, located far forward on the body. Mouth small and narrow. Tail section has a pronounced keel above and below. Striking black and white color pattern. Basically shiny black with a large, conspicuous white patch on each side from the midriff aft. the upper half of the dorsal fin is white, as is the trailing edge of the flukes.

Main variances are in color. Body may be gray or brownish black; white areas may be speckled. Some individuals are completely black.

Often well offshore and beyond outer edge of continental shelf, but also in deeper inshore waters.

Most common small cetacean in the North Pacific. They are commonly seen offshore and inshore from southern California to Alaska. Being a deepwater animal it comes close to shore where their are canyons or deep channels. Sightings are common in Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Strait, Juan de Fuca Strait, and exposed seaways like Queen Charlotte Sound, Dixon Entrance and Fitzhugh Sound. They can be found year round in Prince WIlliam Sound and Glacier Bay.

Dall's Porpoise feeds on a wide variety of deep-sea fishes, squid and crustaceans.

Similar Species
Not likely to be confused with any other cetacean.

This is the fastest swimmer of the cetacean reaching speeds of up to 35 mph. They kick up a rooster tail of spray when they surface and are enthusiastic bow riders on boats. They splash so much that you may not get a clear look until it bowrides the boat. Then by its size and coloration it is unmistakable.

The killer whale and sharks (who have been known to attack Dall's Porpoise), fishing gear intended to catch fish, and human hunters who relish porpoise meat, are all enemies. They are not threatened in the west coast range.

Usually swims in bands of 2 to 20. Often in mixed herds with the Pacific White-sided Dolphin. They almost never leap clear of the water.

Also known as True's Porpoise, and Spray Porpoises.


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