35 Updated Cetacean Red List Assessments published in Nov 2018


Assessments or reassessments of 35 cetacean species, subspecies or populations were published on the IUCN Red List in November 2018. This is in addition to the 10 new assessments published in July 2018, and 19 published in November 2017. The updated assessments included a number of baleen whales, including the Fin Whale, Blue Whale, Humpback Whale, Sei Whale, Common Minke Whale, Omura’s Whale and Gray Whale (see Table 1 for details). They also included updated assessments for a large number of the more common odontocetes, including the Spinner Dolphin, Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, Fraser’s Dolphin, Striped Dolphin, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin and both Pilot Whales. For 17 of the updated assessments, the Red List status remained the same as in the previous assessment and for 18 there was a change in classification. The conservation status of the Fin Whale and the western subpopulation of Gray Whales has improved: the Fin Whale was down-listed from Endangered to Vulnerable and the western subpopulation of Gray Whales from Critically Endangered to Endangered.

The Iloilo-Guimaras subpopulation of Irrawaddy Dolphins, a new listing, is Critically Endangered, as is the Antarctic subspecies of Blue Whales. Species listed as Endangered were the Sei Whale, Blue Whale and Amazon River Dolphin, and those listed as Vulnerable were the Fin Whale and the Mediterranean sub-population of Cuvier’s Beaked Whales. The Heaviside’s Dolphin, Guiana Dolphin, Burmeister’s Porpoise and False Killer Whale are all now listed as Near Threatened.

Following new guidance from IUCN on how to interpret and apply the Data Deficient category, 14 species previously categorized as Data Deficient are now assigned to a different category: 8 Least Concern, 4 Near Threatened, 1 Vulnerable and 1 Endangered.

Work on updated and new assessments is continuing and we expect more to be published in 2019.


Table 1. Summary of reassessments or new assessments published in the 2018-2 (Nov) Red List update. (NT = Near Threatened, DD = Data Deficient, CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, LC = Least Concern)

Species/Subspecies Common name Taxonomic level Category Status change
1 Balaenoptera acutorostrata Common Minke Whale Species (global) LC  No change
2 Megaptera novaeangliae Humpback Whale Species (global) LC  No change
3 Balaenoptera musculus Blue Whale Species (global) EN  No change
4 Balaenoptera borealis Sei Whale Species (global) EN  No change
5 Eschrichtius robustus Gray Whale Species (global) LC  No change
6 Eschrichtius robustus Gray Whale western subpopulation EN  CR->EN
7 Balaenoptera physalus Fin Whale Species (global) VU  EN->VU
8 Balaenoptera omurai Omura’s Whale Species (global) DD  No change
9 Caperea marginata Pygmy Right Whale Species (global) LC  No change
10 Balaenoptera musculus intermedia Antarctic Blue Whale Subspecies CR  No change
11 Orcaella brevirostris Irrawaddy Dolphin Iloilo-Guimaras subpopulation CR New listing
12 Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier’s Beaked Whale Mediterranean subpopulation VU  DD->VU
13 Sotalia guianensis Guiana Dolphin Species (global) NT  DD->NT
14 Inia geoffrensis Amazon River Dolphin Species (global) EN  DD->EN
15 Cephalorhynchus heavisidii Heaviside’s Dolphin Species (global) NT  DD->NT
16 Feresa attenuate Pygmy Killer Whale Species (global) LC DD>LC
17 Phocoena spinipinnis Burmeister’s Porpoise Species (global) NT DD->NT
18 Tasmacetus shepherdi Shepherd’s Beaked Whale Species (global) DD No change
19 Mesoplodon hotaula Deraniyagala’s Beaked Whale Species (global) DD New listing
20 Stenella clymene Clymene Dolphin Species (global) LC DD->LC
21 Phocoena dioptrica Spectacled Porpoise Species (global) LC DD-> LC
22 Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Pacific White-sided Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
23 Stenella frontalis Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Species (global) LC DD->LC
24 Grampus griseus Risso’s Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
25 Phocoenoides dalli Dall’s Porpoise Species (global) LC No change
26 Stenella longirostris Spinner Dolphin Species (global) LC DD->LC
27 Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser’s Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
28 Lissodelphis peronii Southern Right Whale Dolphin Species (global) LC DD->LC
29 Stenella attenuata Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
30 Lagenorhynchus cruciger Hourglass Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
31 Lissodelphis borealis Northern Right Whale Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
32 Lagenorhynchus albirostris White-beaked Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
33 Pseudorca crassidens False Killer Whale Species (global) NT DD->NT
34 Globicephala macrorhynchus Short-finned pilot whale Species (global) LC DD->LC
35 Globicephala melas Long-finned pilot whale Species (global) LC DD->LC

The Red List status and documentation for the 89 currently recognised cetacean species as well as 39 subspecies or subpopulations can be found on the IUCN Red List website (redlist.org). Of the 89 species, 29% are assigned to a threatened category (i.e., CR, EN, VU, NT) and 32% are considered DD although ongoing reassessments of Data Deficient species are likely to result in some of them being reclassified in the near future (see Table 2).


Table 2. Summary information on Red List status as of Nov 2018.

Category Species Subspecies/populations Total
Critically Endangered 3 16 19
Endangered 10 11 21
Vulnerable 7 8 15
Near Threatened 6 0 6
Least Concern 34 0 34
Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent* 0 1 1
Data Deficient 29 3 32
Total 89 39 128

*This is no longer a recognized category and this assessment is out of date.