Polar Biology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 211–220

Status of the harbour porpoise in Greenland

  • Jonas Teilmann
  • Rune Dietz

DOI: 10.1007/s003000050237

Cite this article as:
Teilmann, J. & Dietz, R. Polar Biol (1998) 19: 211. doi:10.1007/s003000050237


In Greenlandic waters the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) has been observed around the southern part of Greenland from Ammassalik on the east coast to Avanersuaq in northwest Greenland. The main distribution lies between Sisimiut and Paamiut in central west Greenland. Catch statistics from 1900 to 1993 indicate an annual average take of 668 harbour porpoises, ranging from 27 to 1531 animals. A decline in the reported catch has been recorded since 1980. Harbour porpoises are mainly caught between April and November, with a peak during June to October. Five fish species, crustaceans and squids have been found in stomach contents of harbour porpoises in Greenlandic waters. There are no indications that environmental issues such as organochlorines, heavy metals, oil or noise have constituted any threat to harbour porpoises in Greenland. No reports of ice entrapments of harbour porpoises have yet been made in Greenland, as is the case for white whales and narwhals on the west coast of Greenland. Disease patterns of harbour porpoise have not been studied in Greenland and incidents of mass mortality have never been recorded. Killer whales are sparse along the west Greenland coast and are not believed to constitute a threat to the harbour porpoise population. In Greenland no estimates on stock size are available, and a monitoring programme is needed if the impact of the catch is to be evaluated.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonas Teilmann
    • 1
  • Rune Dietz
    • 2
  1. 1.Danbiu ApS, Tornagervej 2, DK-2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark Fax.: (+45) 39 63 36 97; e-mail: Danbiu@dk-online.dkDK
  2. 2.National Environmental Research Institute, Department of Arctic Environment, Tagensvej 1354, DK-2200 Copenhagen N, DenmarkDK