First records of the Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise Neophocaena phocaenoides (G. Cuvier, 1829) (Cetartiodactyla: Phocoenidae) from Sri Lanka

Main Article Content

Ranil P. Nanayakkara
Thomas A. Jefferson
Sandaruwan Abayaratne


Thirty species of marine mammals have been recorded from Sri Lanka.  Amongst them the Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise Neophocaena phocaenoides is the only representative of the family Phocoenidae.  The only previous record from Sri Lanka was a specimen caught on the Wadge Bank by a Smithsonian Carangid Survey team in 1970.  Wadge Bank is west of the island and is, in fact, in Indian territorial waters.  Here we present the first legitimate records of the Finless Porpoise from Sri Lanka, based on one stranding and three live sightings.  Furthermore, the occurrence of threatened species such as the Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise in the waters of the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar indicates that a cross boundary research initiative between Indian and Sri Lankan scientists, simultaneously focusing on the conservation of the species, is essential.  We believe, through such an initiative, a more holistic approach could be adopted when studying and conserving the species, which could then be expanded to encapsulate many other marine species and ecosystems. 

Article Details

Short Communications


de Silva, P.H.D.H. (1987). Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) recorded off Sri Lanka, India, from the Arabian Sea and Gulf, Gulf of Aden and from the Red Sea. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 84(3): 505–525.

Ilangakoon, A.D. (2002). Whales and Dolphins, Sri Lanka. WHT Publications Ltd., Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Jefferson, T.A. (2014). Family Phocoenidae (Porpoises), pp. 528–545. In Wilson, D.E. & R.A. Mittermeier (eds.) Handbook of Mammals of the World. Lynx Edicions, Spain.

Jefferson, T.A. & S.K. Hung (2004). Neophocaena phocaenoides. Mammalian Species 746: 1–2;

Jefferson, T.A. & J.Y. Wang (2011). Revision of the taxonomy of Finless Porpoises (genus Neophocaena): The existence of two species. Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology 4(1): 3–16.

Leatherwood, S. & R.R. Reeves (ed.) (1989). Marine Mammal Research and Conservation in Sri Lanka 1985–1986. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Marine Mammal Technical Report No. 1, Nairobi, Kenya.

Marsh, H. (2008). Dugong dugon. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T6909A12812709.

Reeves, R.R., M.L. Dalebout, T.A. Jefferson, L. Karczmarski, K. Laidre, G. O’Corry-Crowe, L. Rojas-Bracho, E. R. Secchi, E. Slooten, B.D. Smith, J. Y. Wang & K. Zhou (2008). Sousa chinensis. In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species v. 2014.2 <>. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Wang, J.Y. & R.R. Reeves (2012). Neophocaena phocaenoides. In IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T198920A50386795.

Yapa, A.C. & G. Ratnavira (2013). The Mammals of Sri Lanka. Field Ornithology Group, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.