Phocoena dioptrica 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Phocoenidae

Scientific Name: Phocoena dioptrica (Lahille, 1912)
Common Name(s):
English Spectacled Porpoise
French Marsouin À Lunettes, Marsouin De Lahille
Spanish Marsopa De Anteojos
Australophocaena dioptrica (Lahille, 1912)
Australophocaena dioptrica Lahille, 1912.
Taxonomic Notes: This species was briefly considered to be in its own genus, Australophocaena, and was listed in the 1996-2002 Red Lists as Australophocaena dioptrica. However, due to findings of recent genetic and morphometric studies, it is now again placed in the genus Phocoena (Rosel et al. 1995, Perrin et al. 2000).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B.
Reviewer(s): Rojas-Bracho, L. & Smith, B.D. (Cetacean Red List Authority)
This is a very poorly known species, and there is a lack of information to make an assessment of its extinction risk.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Previously known primarily from the southern coast of eastern South America, from Uruguay and southern Brazil to Tierra del Fuego, this species is now known from offshore in the southern Hemisphere (Brownell and Clapham 1999). There are records from the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Kerguelen Islands, Heard Island, Macquarie Island, and the Auckland Islands. Although rarely seen at sea (there are only a few dozen live sightings), this information suggests that the spectacled porpoise’s range may be circumpolar in the sub-Antarctic zone (with water temperatures of at least 1-10°C) (Goodall 2002). The southernmost sighting is from 64°34'S.
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Australia (Macquarie Is., Tasmania); Brazil; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Southern Territories (Kerguelen); Heard Island and McDonald Islands; New Zealand (Antipodean Is.); South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Uruguay
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – Antarctic; Indian Ocean – Antarctic; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are no estimates of abundance.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Spectacled porpoises seem to occur only in cold temperate waters. Although they have been observed or incidentally caught in coastal waters and reported from rivers and channels, their habitat is thought to be primarily oceanic. Where recorded, water temperatures associated with sightings ranged from 5.5°C to 9.5°C (Brownell and Clapham, 1999).

Only four stomachs have been examined; the contents included anchovies and stomatopods (mantis shrimp).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It may be harvested as crab bait in Chile.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Spectacled porpoises may be taken deliberately for crab bait off southern Chile. The effects of these catches on spectacled porpoise subpopulations are not known (Jefferson et al.1993).

Like all phocoenoids, spectacled porpoises are caught in gillnets. At least 34 animals were killed incidentally between 1975 and 1990 in coastal gill nets set in Tierra del Fuego, and there was a co-occurrence of strandings and fishing activity in southeastern Chile, suggesting additional undocumented mortality from this source. Some mortality of spectacled porpoises was also reported from bottom and mid-water trawls off the coast of Chubut, Argentina (Brownell and Clapham, 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

Estimates of abundance are needed as well as information on direct and incidental takes.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - animal
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Brownell Jr., R. L. and Clapman, P. J. 1999. Spectacled Porpoise Phocoena dioptrica (Lahille, 1912). In: S. H. Ridgeway and R. Harrison (eds), Handbook of Marine Mammals. Volume 6: The Second Book of Dolphins and the Porpoises, pp. 379-391. Academic Press, San Diego, USA.

Goodall, R. N. P. 2002. Spectacled porpoise Phocoena dioptrica. In: W. F. Perrin, B. Wursig and J. G. M. Thewissen (eds), Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, pp. 1158-1161. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.

IUCN. 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Jefferson, T.A. and Curry, B.E. 1994. A global review of porpoise (Cetacea, Phocoenidae) mortality in gillnets. Biological Conservation 67: 167-183.

Perrin, W. F., Goodall, R. N. P. and Cozzuol, M. A. 2000. Osteological variation in the spectacled porpoise (Phocoena dioptrica). Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 2(3): 211-215.

Rosel, P.E., Haygood, M.G. and Perrin, W.F. 1995. Phylogenetic relationships among the true porpoises (Cetacea: Phocoenidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 4: 463-474.

Citation: Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B. 2008. Phocoena dioptrica. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41715A10545460. . Downloaded on 21 February 2018.
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