CBS News Needs To Figure Out The Difference Between A Dolphin and A Porpoise

Mendy Garron, NER Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator explained this to us last week when we were trying to ID several Common Dolphin and Porpoise Sightings In Gloucester Harbor on March 17th and 18th.

In last night’s headline incorrectly titled the headline-

Dead Dolphin Found On Revere Beach

They went on in the story about how it was a porpoise here’s an excerpt-

REVERE (CBS) — A dead harbor porpoise was found on Revere Beach Saturday morning. It is the seventh harbor porpoise that the New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Team handled in Massachusetts this week. Six of them were dead when found. The seventh had been stranded in a salt marsh in Saugus and is doing well not at the University of New England’s Marine Animal Rescue Center in Biddeford, Maine.

The Aquarium says all of the porpoises found were yearlings that were underweight and had probably just been weaned from their mothers in the early winter. This leaves it up to them for forage for food through the winter.

For the rest of the story click the highlighted link above.

Hey screw-ups happen.  Nobody’s perfect, least of all your boy Joey.  Just thought I’d point it out for ‘em.

Here is the difference as we reported last week in this series of posts including video.  I wonder if the harbor porpoise that washed up was the guy bouncing around Gloucester harbor 10 days ago?-

ID dolphin/porpoise/whale For Bill

Posted on March 17, 2011 by Joey C

Hey Joe,

We had a little dolphin/porpoise/whale in the cove on Thursday. Whatever it was it was definitely a cetacean. In this shot, it was only about 50 feet from shore, and the water was only 5-6 feet deep, so I’m thinking it was a lost pup that got separated from it’s pod.  I’m not sure what species it was – but its color was very dark – almost black, the dorsal fin was swept back and pretty small, so it could be a pilot whale pup.  As far as I could tell it was only 4-5 feet long with not much body mass.

Does anybody want to help identify it?

~Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid


Harbor Porpoise In Front of The Dock 3/17/11

Posted on March 17, 2011 by Joey C

Funny that we had the post from Bill O’Connor about ID’ing the harbor porpoise and what do you know he surfaces up in front of our dock the at about the same time Bill’s post went live.

Mendy Garron Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator Reports On Common Dolphin In Gloucester Harbor Yesterday

Posted on March 18, 2011 by Joey C

Hi Joey,

I did see the video and this too is a harbor porpoise.  Below is a picture of the common dolphin from yesterday (photo provide by USCG).  As you will notice, the dorsal fin is much more ‘hooked’ shape compared to a harbor porpoise.

Thanks so much!



There are some good refernces on the differences between a dolphin and a porpoise on the web. Check out-


  • FYI – Last Tuesday I drove my Dad to his dentist in the Mill Pond offices section, near O’Maley school. And in the parking lot was the Marine Rescue team located in Gloucester. A few minutes later I saw 4 young ladies carrying a very heavy mammal. I asked them what it was – and they said it was a dead harbor popoise they had found in the marsh area.
    I wonder if this is the one that was swimming around the inner harbor Joey? The poor guy!


  • I wonder if they are dying because they are being weened too early in the season, or if a main food source for the pups that’s usually abundant this time of year is seasonally irregular and these pups are just starving to death. Either way, it’s pretty sad.


  • A few Aprils ago I saw four or five in Folly Cove . They were there for 2 days . Thought I was dreaming , never saw them before around here .


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