This is one of the smallest cetaceans, which spends the majority of its time in estuaries and harbours – though it will sometimes venture up rivers, and have been found 100km from the coast.
They get their name from an anglicized version of the french word Porpois. This in turn comes from a medieval Latin amalgamation of two word – these are porcus (pig) and Piscus (fish). I think that these names are rather unfair, but still.
Its range is the North Atlantic, North Pacific and the Black sea. The populations are not continuous and as such there is a series of sub-populations that are geographically limited.
They are thought to have a global population of around 700,000, the Baltic sea is the only one which is seriously endangered, and that is the Baltic sea population which is thought to be around 500. Others could become endangered if current trends continue such as the Black sea population which is currently estimated to number around 12,000.
They have to spend a great deal of time looking for food, as they need to eat 7-8% of their bodyweight each day.
Generally, they live 8-13 years although individuals have been recorded living to over 20.