5 Updated Cetacean Red List Assessments Published in March 2019


Assessments or reassessments of 5 cetacean species, subspecies or populations were published on the IUCN Red List in March 2019. This is in addition to the 35 published in November 2018, 10 in July 2018, and 19 in November 2017. A total of 69 cetacean assessments have now been published in the last year and a half.

The updated assessments were of the Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Dusky Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus), and Peale’s Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis), all of which were listed as Least Concern (LC). The Cook Inlet subpopulation of Beluga Whales was again classified as Critically Endangered (see Table 1 for details). For three of the updated assessments, the Red List status remained the same as in the previous assessment and two were changed from Data Deficient (DD) to LC following new guidance from IUCN on how to interpret and apply the DD category. Work on updated and new assessments is continuing and we expect more to be published later in 2019.


Table 1. Summary of updated assessments and new assessments published in the 2019-1 (Mar) 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 Tursiops truncatus Common Bottlenose Dolphin Species (global) LC  No change
2 Lagenorhynchus obscurus Dusky Dolphin Species (global) LC DD->LC
3 Stenella coeruleoalba Striped Dolphin Species (global) LC No change
4 Lagenorhynchus australis Peale’s Dolphin Species (global) LC DD->LC
5 Delphinapterus leucas Beluga Cook Inlet (subpopulation) CR No change

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 30% 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). It should also be emphasized that there is strong interest in completing additional assessments of subpopulations that are known or thought to be at higher risk than the species as a whole (e.g., Killer Whales, Belugas, Dusky Dolphins, Amazon River Dolphin, Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise, and Burmeister’s Porpoise etc.).


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

Category Species Subspecies/subpopulations Total
Critically Endangered 3 16 19
Endangered 10 11 21
Vulnerable 7 8 15
Near Threatened 6 0 6
Least Concern 36 0 36
Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent* 0 1 1
Data Deficient 27 3 30
Total 89 39 128

*This is no longer a recognized category and this assessment (for the Bowhead Whale, Bering-Chuckchi-Beaufort Seas subpopulation) is out of date.