Status of the World’s Cetaceans

A total of 87 cetacean species (of 90) and an additional 38 subspecies or subpopulations have been evaluated for the IUCN Red List.

Ganges River dolphin, Platanista gangetica gangetica, photographed in the Kulsi River, India. Rivers dolphins in this river are threatened by construction of a new dam. Photo credit: Mark Cawardine.

The Yangtze River dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) is classified as critically endangered and may already be functionally extinct. The vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a porpoise resident in the inner Gulf of California in Mexico is the other cetacean that is listed as critically endangered. Seven species are endangered: sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica), the South Asian river dolphins (Platanista gangetica), and Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori). Six species are classified as vulnerable and five are near threatened. Many species are very little known and have been classified as Data Deficient.

Category Species Subspecies/populations Total
Critically Endangered 2 16 18
Endangered 7 10 17
Vulnerable 6 6 12
Near Threatened 5 0 5
Least Concern 22 0 22
Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent* 0 2 2
Data Deficient 45 4 49
Total 87** 38 125

*This classification is from the 1994 red list categories and criteria, version 2.3.

** Three species not yet evaluated.

Below is a list of all the cetacean species, subspecies and populations that have been listed on the IUCN Red List, along with their threat category, the specific criteria that they satisfy, and a link to the detailed red list species evaluation.

Species Name Common Name Subspecies/ subpopulation Red List Category Red List Criteria Population Trend Year Assessed
Balaena mysticetus Bowhead Whale LC increasing 2008
Balaena mysticetus (Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea subpopulation) LR/CD 1996
Balaena mysticetus (Okhotsk Sea subpopulation) EN D unknown 2008
Balaena mysticetus (Svalbard-Barents Sea (Spitsbergen) subpopulation) CR D unknown 2008
Balaenoptera acutorostrata Common Minke Whale LC stable 2008
Balaenoptera bonaerensis Antarctic Minke Whale DD unknown 2008
Balaenoptera borealis Sei Whale EN A1ad unknown 2008
Balaenoptera edeni Bryde’s Whale DD unknown 2008
Balaenoptera musculus Blue Whale EN A1abd increasing 2008
Balaenoptera musculus ssp. brevicauda DD 1996
Balaenoptera musculus ssp.intermedia CR A1abd increasing 2008
Balaenoptera musculus ssp.musculus (North Atlantic Stock) VU D1 needs updating 1996
Balaenoptera musculus ssp.musculus (North Pacific Stock) LR/CD needs updating 1996
Balaenoptera omurai Omura’s Whale DD unknown 2008
Balaenoptera physalus Fin Whale EN A1d unknown 2008
Balaenoptera physalus (Mediteranean subpopulation) VU C2a(ii) decreasing 2012
Berardius arnuxii Arnoux’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Berardius bairdii Baird’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Caperea marginata Pygmy Right Whale DD unknown 2008
Cephalorhynchus commersonii Commerson’s Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Cephalorhynchus eutropia Chilean Dolphin NT decreasing 2008
Cephalorhynchus heavisidii Heaviside’s Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Cephalorhynchus hectori Hector’s Dolphin EN A4d decreasing 2008
Cephalorhynchus hectori ssp. maui CR A4cd;C2a(ii) decreasing 2008
Delphinapterus leucas Beluga NT unknown 2008
Delphinapterus leucas (Cook Inlet subpopulation) CR C2a(ii) 2006
Delphinus capensis Long-beaked Common Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Delphinus delphis Short-beaked Common Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Delphinus delphis (Mediterranean subpopulation) EN A2abc decreasing 2003
Delphinus delphis ssp. ponticus VU A2cde 2008
Eschrichtius robustus Gray Whale LC stable 2008
Eschrichtius robustus (western subpopulation) CR C2a(ii);EN increasing 2008
Eubalaena australis Southern Right Whale LC increasing 2008
Eubalaena australis (Chile-Peru subpopulation) CR D unknown 2008
Eubalaena glacialis North Atlantic Right Whale EN D increasing 2008
Eubalaena japonica North Pacific Right Whale EN D unknown 2008
Eubalaena japonica (Northeast Pacific subpopulation) CR D unknown 2008
Feresa attenuata Pygmy Killer Whale DD unknown 2008
Globicephala macrorhynchus Short-finned Pilot Whale DD unknown 2008
Globicephala melas Long-finned Pilot Whale DD unknown 2008
Globicephala melas (Mediteranean subpopulation) DD unknown 2012
Grampus griseus Risso’s Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Grampus griseus (Mediteranean subpopulation) DD unknown 2012
Hyperoodon ampullatus North Atlantic Bottlenose Whale DD unknown 2008
Hyperoodon planifrons Southern Bottlenose Whale LC unknown 2008
Indopacetus pacificus Indo-pacific Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Inia geoffrensis Amazon River dolphin DD unknown 2008
Kogia breviceps Pygmy Sperm Whale DD unknown 2008
Kogia sima Dwarf Sperm Whale DD unknown 2008
Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser’s Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Lagenorhynchus acutus Atlantic White-sided Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Lagenorhynchus albirostris White-beaked Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Lagenorhynchus australis Peale’s Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Lagenorhynchus cruciger Hourglass Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Pacific White-sided Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Lagenorhynchus obscurus Dusky Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Lipotes vexillifer Baiji CR C2a(ii);D possibly extinct 2008
Lissodelphis borealis Northern Right Whale Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Lissodelphis peronii Southern Right Whale Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Megaptera novaeangliae Humpback Whale LC increasing 2008
Megaptera novaeangliae (Arabian Sea subpopulation) EN D unknown 2008
Megaptera novaeangliae (Oceania subpopulation) EN A1ad increasing 2008
Mesoplodon bidens Sowerby’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon bowdoini Andrew’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon carlhubbsi Hubbs’ Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon densirostris Blainville’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon europaeus Gervais’ Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon ginkgodens Ginkgo-toothed Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon grayi Gray’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon hectori Hector’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon layardii Strap-toothed Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon mirus True’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon perrini Perrin’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon peruvianus Pygmy Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon stejnegeri Stejneger’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Mesoplodon traversii Spade-toothed Whale DD unknown 2008
Monodon monoceros Narwhal NT unknown 2008
Neophocaena phocaenoides Indo-pacific Finless Porpoise VU A2cde decreasing 2011
Neophocaena asiaeorientalis Narrow-ridged finless porpoise VU A2cde decreasing 2011
Neophocaena asiaeorientalis ssp. asiaeorientalis (Yangtze Finless Porpoise) CR A3a+4a decreasing 2013.1
Orcaella brevirostris Irrawaddy Dolphin VU A4cd decreasing 2008
Orcaella brevirostris (Ayeyarwady River subpopulation) CR C2a(i,ii); D decreasing 2004
Orcaella brevirostris (Mahakam River subpopulation) CR D unknown 2008
Orcaella brevirostris (Malampaya Sound subpopulation) CR C2a(i,ii); D decreasing 2004
Orcaella brevirostris (Mekong River subpopulation) CR C2a(i,ii); D decreasing 2004
Orcaella brevirostris (Songkhla Lake subpopulation) CR C2a(i,ii); D decreasing 2004
Orcaella heinsohni Australian Snubfin Dolphin NT unknown 2008
Orcinus orca Killer Whale DD unknown 2008
Peponocephala electra Melon-headed Whale LC unknown 2008
Phocoena dioptrica Spectacled Porpoise DD unknown 2008
Phocoena phocoena Harbour Porpoise LC unknown 2008
Phocoena phocoena (Baltic Sea subpopulation) CR C2a(ii) decreasing 2008
Phocoena phocoena ssp. relicta EN A1d+4cde decreasing 2008
Phocoena sinus Vaquita CR A4d;C2a(ii) decreasing 2008
Phocoena spinipinnis Burmeister’s Porpoise DD unknown 2008
Phocoenoides dalli White-flanked Porpoise LC unknown 2008
Physeter macrocephalus Sperm Whale VU A1d unknown 2008
Physeter macrocephalus (Mediteranean subpopulation) EN C2a(ii) decreasing 2012
Platanista gangetica South Asian River Dolphin EN A2abcde unknown 2008
Platanista gangetica ssp. gangetica EN A2abcde+3bcde+4abcde decreasing 2004
Platanista gangetica ssp. minor EN A2abcde; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv); C1 unknown 2004
Pontoporia blainvillei Franciscana VU A decreasing 2008
Pontoporia blainvillei (Rio Grande do Sul/Uruguay subpopulation) VU A2d decreasing 2003
Pseudorca crassidens False Killer Whale DD unknown 2008
Sotalia fluviatilis Tucuxi DD unknown 2010
Sotalia guianensis Guiana Dolphin DD unknown 2009
Sousa chinensis Indo-pacific Hump-backed Dolphin NT decreasing 2008
Sousa chinensis (eastern Taiwan Strait subpopulation) CR C2a(ii) decreasing 2008
Sousa teuszii Atlantic Humpbacked Dolphin VU C2a(i) decreasing 2008
Stenella attenuata Pantropical Spotted Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Stenella clymene Clymene Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Stenella coeruleoalba Striped Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Stenella coeruleoalba(Mediterranean subpopulation) VU A2bcde unknown 2012
Stenella frontalis Atlantic Spotted Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Stenella longirostris Spinner Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Stenella longirostris ssp. orientalis VU A2d increasing 2008
Steno bredanensis Rough-toothed Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Tasmacetus shepherdi Shepherd’s Beaked Whale DD unknown 2008
Tursiops aduncus Indo-pacific Bottlenose Dolphin DD unknown 2008
Tursiops truncatus Common Bottlenose Dolphin LC unknown 2008
Tursiops truncatus ssp.ponticus EN A2cde unknown 2008
Tursiops truncatus (Mediteranean subpopulation) VU A2cde(ii) decreasing 2012
Tursiops truncatus (Fiordland subpopulation) CR A3bcd;C1 decreasing 2010
Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier’s Beaked Whale LC unknown 2008
Ziphius cavirostris (Mediteranean subpopulation) DD unknown 2012

Neophocaena asiaeorientalis