The harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is the UK’s most common cetacean species and is seen regularly throughout Liverpool Bay. Adult porpoise range between 1.4 and 1.9m long, making the Britain’s smallest cetacean. The harbour porpoise is easily identified by its small size and triangular dorsal fin. The porpoise also differs from dolphin by the shape of its teeth. Unlike the conical teeth found in dolphin, the porpoise has spade-shaped teeth. Porpoise are often the victims of attack by bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the region and will occasionally be found washed up with noticeable rake marks on them from the attack.
IUCN status Least Concern.
Porpoise are common around the UK and as with all cetaceans are protected under law. They however do face threats as bycatch, pollution and noise pollution and boat traffic.
Where to Find Them:
Porpoise are commonly sighted from land in the River Mersey, around New Brighton and Crosby, around Hilbre Island and from Blackpool and Fleetwood. They are also regularly seen by people on board ships and small boats throughout the bay.
Porpoise primarily feed upon small fish such as herring, sprat and sand eels and can often be seen feeding with common, sandwich and Arctic terns (Sterna spp).
Did you know Liverpool Bay Marine Life Trust record harbour porpoise year round from our land watches in association with the Sea Watch Foundation.
Did you know in the middle ages porpoise where considered a fish so they were consumed by monks on the monasteries on the Mersey on Fridays. Bones and recipes for porpoise black pudding have been found near Runcorn.
Did you know that porpoise can be seen from Liverpool’s historic world heritage waterfront, especially throughout the summer.