Marine Mammal Sci (1999)

DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.1999.tb00803.x


Life history parameters were estimated for Dall’s porpoise, Phocoenoides dalli, from biological specimens collected in the western Aleutian Islands, during 1981–1987. Of 2,033 males and 3,566 females examined, reproductive data were available for 1,941 males and 1,906 females; ages were determined for 813 males and 1,297 females. Female sexual maturity was based on the presence of one or more corpus on either ovary; 845 were sexually immature and 1,061 were sexually mature. Two estimates of female average age at sexual maturity (ASM) were 3.8 and 4.4 yr; average length at sexual maturity (LSM) was 172 cm. Males were considered sexually mature when evidence of spermatogenesis was detected; 1,136 were sexually immature and 805 were sexually mature. Two estimates of male ASM were 4.5 and 5.0 yr; LSM was 179.7 cm. Physical maturity was assessed for 246 males and 446 females by examining the degree of fusion in thoracic vertebral epiphyses. For both sexes, the average age at physical maturity was 7.2 yr. Average length at physical maturity was 202.6 cm for males and 192.7 cm for females. Average lengths of physically mature males (x̄= 198.1 cm, SE = 0.8566) and females (x̄= 189.7 cm, SE = 0.4002) were significantly different(P < 0.0001). Early postnatal growth was rapid in both sexes. A secondary growth spurt in both mass and length was characteristic for both sexes; the increase in length preceded the mass increase by 1–2 yr. Average length at birth (LOB) was approximately 100 cm; birth mass averaged 11.3 kg (SE = 0.0772). By the time the umbilicus had healed (<2 mo), the average length and mass had increased to 114.1 cm and 23.8 kg, respectively. Gestation period based on projections using LOB was 12 mo, but this was considered an overestimate. Calving was modal, centered in early July; an annual reproductive interval was indicated. Among the sexually mature females, 120 were pregnant, 55 were pregnant and lactating, 321 were pregnant with colostrum, and 33 were “resting.” By 3 July (95% CI =x̄ 1 d), 50% of births had occurred, during each of the seven years sampled. The ovulation rate was estimated at 0.914 ovulations per average reproductive year. Enlarged follicles and recent ovulations were observed in postpartum females in late July.