2017 Cetacean Red List Update

Assessments or reassessments of 19 cetacean species, subspecies and populations were published on the IUCN Red List in 2017.  These included all four species of humpback dolphin, the Irrawaddy dolphin, two species of finless porpoise, the South Asian River dolphin, the beluga, the narwhal, and the vaquita among others (see Table 1 for details).  A new “taxon,” the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale, was listed as Critically Endangered (CR).  The Atlantic humpback dolphin was uplisted to CR, and the baiji, vaquita and Taiwanese humpback dolphin (formerly considered a subpopulation, recently described as a subspecies) were all reconfirmed as CR (the baiji again being tagged as “possibly extinct”).  The South Asian River dolphin, Irrawaddy dolphin, narrow-ridged finless porpoise, and Indian Ocean humpback dolphin were all listed as Endangered (EN), while the franciscana, Australian humpback dolphin, Australian snubfin dolphin, Indo-Pacific finless porpoise, and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin were all listed as Vulnerable (VU).

Summary of reassessments or new assessments published in the 2017-3 (December)* Red List update. (NT = Near Threatened; DD = Data Deficient)* published in September edition of the 2017 Red List

#SpeciesCommon namePopulationCategoryStatus change
1Balaenoptera edeniBrydes whaleBalaenoptera edeni (Gulf of Mexico subpopulation)CRNew listing
2Cephalorhynchus commersoniiCommersons dolphinLCChanged to LC from DD
3Cephalorhynchus eutropiaChilean dolphinNTUnchanged
4Delphinapterus leucasBelugaLCChanged to LC from NT
5Lipotes vexilliferBaiji (Yangtze River dolphin)CR (possibly extinct)Unchanged
6Monodon monocerosNarwhalLCChanged to LC from NT
7Neophocaena asiaeorientalisNarrow-ridged finless porpoiseENChanged to EN from VU
8Neophocaena phocaenoidesIndo-Pacific finless porpoiseVUUnchanged
9Orcaella brevirostrisIrrawaddy dolphinENChanged to EN from VU
10Orcaella heinsohniAustralian snub-fin dolphinVUChanged to VU from NT
11Orcinus orcaKiller whaleDDUnchanged
12Phocoena sinus*VaquitaCRUnchanged
13Platanista gangeticaSouth Asian River dolphinENUnchangd
14Pontoporia blainvilleiFranciscanaVUUnchanged
15Sousa chinensisIndo-Pacific humpback dolphinVUNew assessment of species redefined in relation to newly recognized congeners – changed to VU from NT
16Sousa chinensisSousa chinensis taiwanensis (subspecies)CRNew assessment of subpopulation recently recognized as a subspecies - status unchanged
17Sousa plumbeaIndian Ocean humpback dolphinENNew listing
18Sousa sahulensisAustralian humpback dolphinVUNew listing
19Sousa teusziiAtlantic humpback dolphinCRChanged to CR from VU

All 89 cetacean species and an additional 39 subspecies or subpopulations have been assessed and their status and documentation can be found on the IUCN Red List website (redlist.org).  Of the 89 species, 22% are assigned to a threatened category (i.e. CR, EN, VU, NT) and almost 50% are considered DD (see Table 2).

Table 2. Summary information on Red List status as of December 2017.

Category Species Subspecies/populations Total
Critically Endangered 3 17 20
Endangered 10 9 19
Vulnerable 6 7 13
Near Threatened 1 0 1
Least Concern 25 0 25
Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent* 0 2 2
Data Deficient 44 4 48
Total 89 39 128

*This category is no longer recognized; therefore these assessments are out of date.