Harbor porpoises live in shallow coastal waters in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Black Sea. Around the Pacific Northwest, harbor seals can be seen from all sites along The Whale Trail in Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Harbor porpoises have a rounded snout with a thick midsection. Females are sexually mature at 3 – 4 years of age and can give birth once a year for several years. Their gestation period is about 10 – 11 months and they nurse their young for up to a year. Harbor porpoises eat small fish such as herring and capelin and squid.
When harbor porpoises surface out of the water to breathe they do not make a slash; instead they arch their backs and roll their bodies gently through the water. They sometimes travel alone or in small groups of about six individuals. Very occasionally they have been spotted feeding together in groups as large as one hundred.
The biggest threat to harbor porpoises is “bycatch”, or accidentally being caught in gillnets and trawls. Special precautions have been put in place to reduce bycatch. Harbor porpoises have also been hunted for centuries and are not as numerous as they once were.