Report of the International Whaling Commission (1995)


Published and new fresh and museum specimens of Burmeister’s porpoise, Phocoena spinipinnis, collected prior to the recent research in Peru, Chile and Argentina, are listed and described. Distribution is from southern Brazil (28°48’S) to the southern tip of the continent near Cape Horn (56°S) and to Paita, Peru (05°S). Most specimens are from captures, with few known strandings. Lengths of nine unpublished females ranged from 134-185cm, with sexual maturity reached by 164.5cm. An animal of 164.5cm was also physically mature, but one female of 185cm was not. Teeth of this largest female had four GLGs. Total length in nine males ranged from ±80cm to 175cm; none were physically mature. Foetuses of 37, 81 and 86cm were recorded; the smallest neonate was 80+cm. Young calves were found in January and April in Tierra del Fuego, a near-term foetus in November in Chile. An animal of 126cm had partially erupted teeth and one of 131cm may still have been suckling. One female was simultaneously pregnant and lactating. A 181cm female had given birth in July. Animals have dark eye patches, dark lips with occasional whitish margins, a white or light stripe from eye to above flipper, a darker wide stripe from lower lip to flipper, a white chin and distinctive curves and stripes on the lighter ventral region. Stomach contents included anchovies and other fish. Parasites were present in some animals. An analysis of milk colostrum is given for a recently calved female, which had the maximum weight of any animal, 67kg. Incidental capture in nets set for fish occurs throughout the range; direct exploitation (harpooning) for bait may take place in southern Chile. Only one young calf has been kept in captivity (eight
days). Nothing is known of the abundance, seasonal movements and stocks of this animal.