Porpoises with glasses

★ Spectacled porpoise (Phocoena dioptrica)

Spectacled porpoises are amongst my favourite cetaceans, their markings are so pretty! Their genus name, Phocoena, is simply a Latinised form of ‘phokaina’, which is Greek for porpoise and (in one version or another) shared amongst all 6 species of porpoises. Their specific name, dioptrica, however is unique, and refers to a dioptra, which is a measuring instrument for angles and altitudes. The instrument does have rings, which may explain its use, though other sources state that dioptrica was more literally meant to mean ‘spectacled’. Whichever is true, fact remains that both the binomial and English name refer to these porpoise’s striking black eye patches, lined with white.

Despite it being their namesake, not all Spectacled porpoises actually show their spectacles. On some animals, like the one in the painting, the black eyepatch is more or less fused with the black cape, leaving only very faint trails of the normally so conspicuous white glasses.

– Digital