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Keywords:

  • finless porpoise;
  • Neophocaena phocaenoides;
  • age determination;
  • growth equation;
  • sexual maturity;
  • parturition season;
  • western Kyushu of Japan;
  • local population

Abstract: In the coastal waters of western Kyushu, Japan, a total of 97 incidentally taken or stranded finless porpoises, Neophocaena phocaenoides, was collected for studying age, growth and reproduction. An additional 17 specimens from the Inland Sea were used for a comparison of life history. Mean neonatal body length was 78.2 cm. Both males and females grew to around 140 cm by 5 yr of age. The maximum body lengths of males and females in western Kyushu were 174.5 cm and 165.0 cm, respectively, which were smaller than those recorded in other Japanese waters. Females probably attain sexual maturity at ages of 6–9 yr and at body lengths of 135–145 cm. Males probably mature sexually at ages of 4–6 yr, at body lengths of 135–140 cm and at weight of testis of 40–150 g. The lack of females aged 5–6 yr and males aged 4–5 yr precluded firm conclusions on ages at sexual maturity. Parturition in western Kyushu was estimated to be prolonged from autumn to spring, whereas in the Inland Sea and Pacific waters it was restricted from spring to summer with a peak in April. These geographical differences and available information on distribution implies that the finless porpoises in western Kyushu constitute a local population.