Update on Cetacean Red List Assessments Published in 2022

IUCN published two Red List updates in 2022 – 2022-1 in July and 2022-2 in December. The new cetacean assessments reflected several recent taxonomic changes (see Committee on Taxonomy). Ramari’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon eueu), a newly recognised species, was assessed as DD (Brownell and Pitman 2022) and True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) was reassessed, in the light of revised taxonomy and new information on distribution, but remains listed as LC (Pitman et al. 2022). Rice’s whale (Balaenoptera ricei), previously assessed as a CR subpopulation of Bryde’s whale (LC), is now assessed as a CR species (Rosel et al. 2022). The Indus River (Platanista minor) and Ganges River (Platanista gangetica) dolphins, both previously assessed as EN subspecies of the South Asian River dolphin (EN), were assessed as EN species in 2022 (Kelkar et al. 2022, Braulik et al. 2022). Finally, the text of the published vaquita assessment was updated in 2022 to reflect the changing situation and new information for that CR species.


In addition to the new species assessments above, new assessments for the following Mediterranean cetacean subpopulations were published: Mediterranean subpopulation of Risso’s dolphin (EN), Gulf of Corinth subpopulation of striped dolphins (EN), Mediterranean subpopulation of striped dolphins (LC), and the Inner Mediterranean subpopulation of common dolphins (EN).


Summary of the Red List Status of Cetaceans

The Red List status and documentation for 93 cetacean species as well as 10 subspecies and 31 subpopulations can be found on the IUCN Red List website (redlist.org). Of the 93 species, 26% are assigned to a threatened category (i.e. CR, EN, VU), just over half (52%) are Least Concern, and 11% are considered DD (Table 1). 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 and narwhals, dusky dolphins, Amazon River dolphins).


Table 1. Summary information on Red List status as of December 2022.

Category Species Subspecies Subpopulations Total
Critically Endangered 5 4 15 24
Endangered 12 2 11 25
Vulnerable 7 4 2 13
Near Threatened 10 0 1 11
Least Concern 49 0 2 51
Data Deficient 10 0 0 10
Total 93 10 31 134



Braulik, G.T., Khan, U., Malik, M. & Aisha, H. 2022. Platanista minor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T41757A50383490. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2022-1.RLTS.T41757A50383490.en. Accessed on 21 December 2022.

Brownell Jr., R.L. & Pitman, R.L. 2022. Mesoplodon eueu. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T215824818A215824841. Accessed on 21 December 2022.

Kelkar, N., Smith, B.D., Alom, M.Z., Dey, S., Paudel, S. & Braulik, G.T. 2022. Platanista gangetica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T41756A50383346. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2022-1.RLTS.T41756A50383346.en. Accessed on 21 December 2022.

Pitman, R.L., Brownell Jr., R.L. & Cholewiak, D. 2022. Mesoplodon mirus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T13250A210428691. Accessed on 21 December 2022.

Rosel, P., Corkeron, P. & Soldevilla, M. 2022. Balaenoptera ricei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T215823373A208496244. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2022-1.RLTS.T215823373A208496244.en. Accessed on 21 December 2022.