This paper gives a survey of the fate of 67 harbour porpoises collected alive from Danish waters and kept in captivity for bioacoustical and physiological investigations.
Even if the harbour porpoise is a common species in coastal waters of the temperate parts of the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, this species has been kept in captivity only in few places and for short periods. Jones (1970) notes: Hagenbeck Zoo 1864, Ionden 1862, New York Aquarium 1970 and to this list can be added Copenhagen Zoo 1970 and Mystic Marine Life, Connecticut 1976. For scientific purposes harbour porpoises have been kept in Holland 1958, Bergen 1964 and since 1962 in our lab. Most of the animals noted in captivity were collected from strandings and fishing gear and only the animals used in Bergen, Holland and 2 of ours have been caught purposely. Generally the harbour porpoise is considered a fragile and difficult species to keep in captivity and this article confirms that mortality among animals that have caught themselves in nets or have been washed ashore is high (Andersen 1974a, Gewalt 1971, Ridgway 1972, Ray 1966).