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Home Species List of Marine Mammal Species and Subspecies
List of Marine Mammal Species and Subspecies

The Ad-Hoc Committee on Taxonomy, chaired by Bill Perrin, has produced the first official SMM list of marine mammal species and subspecies. Consensus on some issues was not possible; this is reflected in the footnotes.

This list is revisited and possibly revised every few months reflecting the continuing flux in marine mammal taxonomy. This version was updated on 13 December 2011.

This list can be cited as follows: “Committee on Taxonomy. 2011. List of marine mammal species and subspecies. Society for Marine Mammalogy,, consulted on [date].”

This list includes living and recently extinct species and subspecies.  It is meant to reflect prevailing usage and recent revisions published in the peer-reviewed literature.  Author(s) and year of description of the species follow the Latin species name; when these are enclosed in paren­theses, the species was originally described in a different genus. Classification and scientific names follow Rice (1998), with adjustments reflecting more recent literature. Common names are arbitrary and change with time and place; one or two currently frequently used in English and/or a range language are given here.  Additional English common names and common names in French, Spanish, Russian and other languages are available at

Based on molecular and morphological data, the cetaceans genetically and morphologically fall firmly within the artiodactyl clade (Geisler and Uhen, 2005), and therefore we include them in the order Cetartiodactyla, with Cetacea, Mysticeti and Odontoceti as unranked taxa (recognizing that the classification within Cetartiodactyla remains partially unresolved -- e.g., see Spaulding et al., 2009, Price et al., 2005; Agnarsson and May-Collado, 2008)1. Below the rank of order, we list only families, species and subspecies, omitting superfamilies, subfamilies and taxa of other ranks.

For pinnipeds we follow Berta and Churchill (in press). To avoid issues of paraphyly, these authors proposed that based on data from genetics and morphology the genus Arctocephalus be limited to Arctocephalus pusillus, the type species of the genus Arctocephalus and transferred the remaining 'Arctocephalus' species (i.e. A. australis, A. galapagoensis, A. gazelle, A. philippii and A. tropicalis) to Arctophoca Peters, 1866. Although as many as four subspecies of Arctophoca australis may be valid pending study of larger samples, only three subspecies are recognized at present: A. a. australis, A. a. forsteri and A. a. gracilis. Two subspecies of Arctophoca philipii are valid: A.p. philippii and A. p. townsendi, although small sample sizes and a small number of genes sampled are concerns. Two subspecies of Eumetopias are supported largely on genetic data, which is also the case for recognition of California, Japanese and Galapagos sea lions as separate species. Brunner (2004) advised use of Otaria byronia (Blainville, 1820) over O. flavescens (Shaw, 1800).  Lindqvist et al. (2009) concluded that a purported third subspecies of walrus Odobenus rosmarus laptevi is not valid. Recent genetic analyses indicate that Phoca vitulina concolor is paraphyletic and this along with lack of morphological differentiation suggests that the western Atlantic subspecies is not valid; P. v. vitulina is considered here to apply to all Atlantic harbor seals. Within the North Pacific, until the subspecies limits of various populations are assessed only a single subspecies is recognized, Phoca vitulina richardii. Placement of the ringed seal, Caspian seal and Baikal seal has alternated between the genera Phoca and Pusa. We accept Rice's (1998) use of Pusa as the correct classification." The use of Lontra rather than Lutra for the marine otter follows Larivière (1998) in rec­ognizing the otters of North and South America as a monophyletic taxon distinct from the otters of Eurasia.

In the mysticete cetaceans, recent genetic evidence strongly supports the recognition of three separate phylogenetic species of right whales (Rosenbaum et al., 2000; Gaines et al., 2005). In addition, the genus Eubalaena (rather than Balaena as in Rice, 1998) is retained for the right whales as recommended by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC, 2002)2. All Bryde's whales are provisionally considered to comprise a single species, Balaenoptera edeni, following the usage of the IWC (IWC 2002, 2008) and Kato and Perrin (2009). Some workers recognize B. edeni as including only the small-form coastal Bryde's whales of the western Pacific and Indian Oceans, using B. brydei for the globally distributed larger more oceanic form (Sasaki et al., 2006). Kato and Perrin (2009) consider these more likely to be distinct at the subspecific level, and they are included here as such. Balaenoptera omurai is a newly described species (Wada et al., 2003). It was previously confounded with the Bryde's whale and has been confirmed as having a separate and ancient lineage (Sasaki et al. 2006). Clarke (2004) proposed recognition of a pygmy form of the fin whale as a subspecies, based on distribution, size and coloration. He resurrected the synonym patachonica Burmeister, 1865 to apply to the subspecies: B. physalus patachonica.

In the odontocetes, Mesoplodon traversii (spade-toothed whale) has been recognized as the senior synonym for M. bahamondi (Bahamonde's beaked whale) (van Helden et al., 2002). Mesoplodon perrini is a newly described species (Dalebout et al., 2002).  Robineau et al. (2007) described the subspecies Cephalorhynchus commersonii kerguelenensis, and A. Baker et al. described C. hectori maui. We follow the IWC in listing only two species of Sousa; the taxonomy of this group is in flux (Parra and Ross, 2009). The tucuxi has been split into the freshwater Sotalia fluviatilis (retaining the common name tucuxi) and the marine Guiana dolphin S. guianensis (Caballero et al. 2007).  Recognition of the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin is now well-supported by genetic data (Viaud-Martinez et al., 2008), as is the Black Sea common dolphin (Natoli et al., 2008). Delphinus tropicalis is now considered a subspecies of D. capensis (Jefferson and Van Waerebeek, 2002). Lagenorhynchus is widely considered an unnatural (polyphyletic) taxon containing morphologically convergent species (Cipriano 1997, LeDuc et al. 1999, McGowen 2011), and application of the genera Sagmatias (for L. obscurus, obliquidens, australis and cruciger) and Leucopleurus (for L. acutus) have been suggested as appropriate and used by some workers. However, there is continuing disagreement about whether australis and cruciger should be included in Cephalorhynchus (which would necessitate a new genus for obliquidens and obscurus, as australis is the type species for the genus Sagmatias) and about whether albirostris and acutus are sister species (which would obviate the need for Leucopleurus). We therefore provisionally retain all the species in Lagenorhynchus. Harlin-Cognato (2010) recognized L. o. posidonia (Peru/Chile). She also recognized L. o. superciliosis (Lesson and Garnot, 1826) for the New Zealand subspecies, but the species identity of the figure in Lesson and Garnot is in question, and we retain use of "un-named New Zealand subspecies." Perrin et al. (1999) established the subspecies Stenella longirostris roseiventris. The Irrawaddy dolphin was recently split into O. brevirostris and O. heinsohni, the Australian snubfin dolphin (Beasley et al., 2005). Krahn et al. (2004) recognized two un-named species of killer whales, the resident and transient forms.Wang et al. (2008) and Jefferson and Wang (2011) established Neophocaena asiaeorientalis as a full species, with two subspecies. Viaud-Martinez et al. (2007) concluded based on morphological and genetic evidence that Phocoena phocoena relicta is a valid subspecies.

In the Sirenia, subspecies of the dugong are not currently recognized (Domning, 1996). However, no in-depth study has been undertaken to address the issue of subspecies.

For review of species concepts, see Reeves et al. (2004), Orr and Coyne (2004), de Queiroz (2007) and Perrin (2009).  Perrin et al. (2009) reviewed the cetacean subspecies, but that review has not yet appeared in the peer-reviewed literature and is therefore not considered here; the subspecies (including for the Carnivora and Sirenia) are as recognized by Rice (1998), with the above-noted changes.

Corrections and comments should be directed to the Ad Hoc Committee on Taxonomy (  Divergent opinions by members of the Committee on particular taxonomic questions are given in the footnotes.

Order Carnivora

Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions; 14 species, of which 1 extinct)

Arctocephalus pusillus (Schreber, 1775) Cape fur seal

A. p. pusillus (Schreber, 1775). Cape fur seal

A. p. doriferus Wood Jones, 1925. Australian fur seal

Arctophoca gazella Peters, 1875. Antarctic fur seal

Arctophoca tropicalis (Gray, 1872).  Subantarctic fur seal

Arctophoca australis (Zimmerman, 1783)

A. a. australis (Zimmermann, 1783). Falkland Islands fur seal

A. a. forsteri (Lesson, 1828). New Zealand fur seal

A. a. gracilis (Nehring, 1887). South American fur seal

Arctophoca galapagoensis Heller, 1904. Galapagos fur seal

Arctophoca philippii (Peters, 1866)

A. p. philippi Peters, 1866. Juan Fernandez fur seal

A. p. townsendi (Merriam, 1897). Guadalupe fur seal

Callorhinus ursinus (Linnaeus, 1758). Northern fur seal

Zalophus japonicus (Peters, 1866). Japanese sea lion (extinct)

Zalophus californianus (Lesson, 1828). California sea lion

Zalophus wollebaeki Sivertsen, 1953. Galapagos sea lion

Eumetopias jubatus (Schreber, 1776). Steller sea lion, northern sea lion

E. j. jubatus (Schreber, 1776). Western Steller sea lion

E. j. monteriensis (Gray, 1859). Loughlin's northern sea lion

Neophoca cinerea (Peron, 1816). Australian sea lion

Phocarctos hookeri (Gray, 1844). New Zealand sea lion

Otaria byronia (Blainville, 1820). South American sea lion

Family Odobenidae

Odobenus rosmarus (Linnaeus, 1758). Walrus

O. r. rosmarus (Linnaeus, 1758). Atlantic walrus

O. r. divergens (Illiger, 1815). Pacific walrus

Family Phocidae (earless seals; 19 species, of which 1extinct)

Erignathus barbatus (Erxleben, 1777). Bearded seal

E. b. barbatus (Erxleben, 1777). Atlantic bearded seal

E. b. nauticus (Pallas, 1881). Pacific bearded seal

Phoca vitulina (Linnaeus, 1758). Harbor seal, common seal

P. v. vitulina (Linnaeus, 1758). Atlantic harbor seal

P. v. richardii (Gray, 1864). Pacific harbor seal

Phoca largha (Pallas, 1811. Spotted seal, largha seal

Pusa hispida (Schreber, 1775). Ringed seal

P. h. hispida (Schreber, 1775). Arctic Ringed seal

P. h. botnica (Gmelin, 1788). Baltic ringed seal

P. h. ochotensis (Nordquist, 1889) Okhotsk ringed seal

P. h. ladogensis (Nordquist, 1889). Lake Ladoga seal

P. h. saimensis (Nordquist, 1889). Saima seal

Pusa caspica (Gmelin, 1788). Caspian seal

Pusa sibirica (Gmelin, 1788. Baikal seal

Halichoerus grypus (Fabricius, 1791). Gray seal

H. g. grypus (Fabricius, 1791). Western Atlantic gray seal

H. g. macrorhynchus Hornschuh and Schilling, 1851. Eastern Atlantic gray seal

Histriophoca fasciata (Zimmerman, 1783). Ribbon seal

Pagophilus groenlandicus (Erxleben, 1777). Harp seal

Cystophora cristata (Erxleben, 1777). Hooded seal

Monachus tropicalis (Gray, 1850). Caribbean monk seal (extinct)

Monachus monachus (Hermann, 1779). Mediter­ranean monk seal

Monachus schauinslandi Matschie, 1905. Hawaiian monk seal

Mirounga leonina (Linnaeus, 1758). Southern elephant seal

Mirounga angustirostris (Gill, 1866). Northern elephant seal

Leptonychotes weddellii (Lesson, 1826). Weddell seal

Ommatophoca rossii Gray, 1844. Ross seal

Lobodon carcinophaga (Hombron and Jacquinot, 1842). Crabeater seal

Hydrurga leptonyx (Blainville, 1820). Leopard seal

Family Ursidae

Ursus maritimus Phipps, 1774. Polar bear

U. m. maritimus Phipps, 1774. Atlantic polar bear

U. m. marinus Pallas, 1776. Pacific polar bear

Family Mustelidae

Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758). Sea otter

E. l. lutris (Linnaeus, 1758). Western sea otter

E. l. kenyoni Wilson, 1991. Eastern sea otter

E. l. nereis (Merriam, 1904). Southern sea otter

Lontra felina (Molina, 1782). Marine otter

Neovision macrodon (Prentis, 1903). Sea mink (extinct)


Order Cetartiodactyla (artiodactyls and cetaceans)

CETACEA (cetaceans; 87 species, of which 1 extinct)

MYSTICETI (baleen whales, 14 species)

Family Balaenidae (right whales, 4 species)

Eubalaena glacialis (Müller, 1776). North Atlantic right whale

Eubalaena japonica (Lacépède, 1818). North Pacific right whale

Eubalaena australis (Desmoulins, 1822). Southern right whale

Balaena mysticetus Linnaeus, 1758. Bowhead whale, Greenland whale

Family Neobalaenidae

Caperea marginata (Gray, 1846). Pygmy right whale

Family Eschrichtiidae

Eschrichtius robustus (Lilljeborg, 1861). Gray whale

Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals, 8 species)

Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781). Humpback whale

Balaenoptera acutorostrata Lacépède, 1804. Common minke whale

B. a. acutorostrata Lacépède, 1804. North Atlantic minke whale

B. a. scammoni Deméré, 1986. North Pacific minke whale

B. a. un-named subsp. Dwarf minke whale

Balaenoptera bonaerensis Burmeister, 1867. Antarctic minke whale

Balaenoptera edeni Anderson, 1879. Bryde's whale

B. e. edeni Anderson, 1879

B. e. brydei Olsen, 1913

Balaenoptera omurai Wada, Oishi and Yamada, 2003. Omura's whale

Balaenoptera borealis Lesson, 1828. Sei whale

B. b. borealis Lesson, 1828. Northern sei whale

B. b. schlegellii (Flower, 1865). Southern sei whale

Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus, 1758). Fin whale

B. p. physalus (Linnaeus, 1758). Northern fin whale

B. p. quoyi Fischer, 1829). Southern fin whale

B. p. patachonica Burmeister, 1865. Pygmy fin whale

Balaenoptera musculus (Linnaeus, 1758). Blue whale

B. m. musculus (Linnaeus, 1758). Northern blue whale

B. m. intermedia Burmeister, 1871. Southern blue whale

B. m. indica Blyth, 1859. Indian Ocean blue whale

B. m. brevicauda Ichihara, 1966. Pygmy blue whale


ODONTOCETI (toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises; 73 species, of which 1 extinct)

Family Physeteridae

Physeter macrocephalus Linnaeus, 1758. Sperm whale, cachalot

Family Kogiidae

Kogia breviceps (Blainville, 1838). Pygmy sperm whale

Kogia sima (Owen, 1866). Dwarf sperm whale

Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales, 21 species)

Ziphius cavirostris G. Cuvier, 1823. Cuvier's beaked whale, goose-beaked whale

Berardius arnuxii Duvernoy, 1851. Arnoux' beaked whale

Berardius bairdii Stejneger, 1883. Baird's beaked whale

Tasmacetus shepherdi Oliver, 1937. Shepherd's beaked whale, Tasman beaked whale

Indopacetus pacificus (Longman, 1926). Longman's beaked whale, tropical bottlenose whale,

Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster, 1770). Northern bottlenose whale

Hyperoodon planifrons Flower, 1882. Southern bottlenose whale

Mesoplodon hectori (Gray, 1871). Hector's beaked whale

Mesoplodon mirus True, 1913. True's beaked whale

Mesoplodon europaeus (Gervais, 1855). Gervais' beaked whale

Mesoplodon bidens (Sowerby, 1804). Sowerby's beaked whale

Mesoplodon grayi von Haast, 1876. Gray's beaked whale

Mesoplodon perrini Dalebout, Mead, Baker, Baker and van Helden, 2002. Perrin's beaked whale

Mesoplodon peruvianus Reyes, Mead and Van Waerebeek, 1991. Pygmy beaked whale

Mesoplodon bowdoini Andrews, 1908. Andrew's beaked whale

Mesoplodon traversii (Gray, 1874). Spade-toothed whale

Mesoplodon carlhubbsi Moore, 1963. Hubbs' beaked whale

Mesoplodon ginkgodens Nishiwaki and Kamiya, 1958. Ginkgo-toothed beaked whale

Mesoplodon stejnegeri True, 1885. Stejneger's beaked whale

Mesoplodon layardii (Gray, 1865). Strap-toothed beaked whale

Mesoplodon densirostris (Blainville, 1817. Blainville's beaked whale

Family Platanistidae

Platanista gangetica (Lebeck, 1801). South Asian river dolphin, Indian River dolphin

P. g. gangetica (Lebeck, 1801). Susu, Ganges river dolphin

P. g. minor Owen, 1853. Bhulan, Indus river dolphin

Family Iniidae

Inia geoffrensis (Blainville, 1817). Amazon river dolphin

I. g. geoffrensis(Blainville, 1817). Boto

I. g. humboldtiana Pilleri and Gihr, 1977. Orinoco bufeo

I. g. boliviensis d'Orbigny, 1834. Bolivian bufeo

Family Lipotidae

Lipotes vexillifer (Miller, 1918). Baiji, Yangtze river dolphin - extinct

Family Pontoporiidae

Pontoporia blainvillei (Gervais and d'Orbigny, 1821). Franciscana, La Plata dolphin

Family Monodontidae

Monodon monoceros Linnaeus, 1758. Narwhal

Delphinapterus leucas (Pallas, 1776). Beluga, white whale

Family Delphinidae (36 species)

Cephalorhynchus commersonii (Lacépède, 1804). Commerson's dolphin

C. c. commersonii (Lacépède, 1804). Commerson's dolphin

C. c. kerguelenensis Robineau, Goodall, Pichler and C. S. Baker, 2007. Kerguelen

Islands Commerson's dolphin

Cephalorhynchus eutropia (Gray, 1846). Chilean dolphin

Cephalorhynchus heavisidii (Gray, 1828). Heaviside's dolphin, Haviside’s dolphin

Cephalorhynchus hectori (Van Beneden, 1881). Hector's dolphin

C. h. hectori (Van Beneden, 1881). Hector's dolphin

C. h. maui A. Baker, Smith and Pichler, 2002. Maui's dolphin

Steno bredanensis (G. Cuvier in Lesson, 1828). Rough-toothed dolphin

Sousa teuszii (Kükenthal, 1892). Atlantic hump­back dolphin

Sousa chinensis (Osbeck, 1765). Indo-Pacific hump­back dolphin

Sotalia fluviatilis (Gervais and Deville, 1853). Tucuxi, marine tucuxi

Sotalia guianensis (Van Bénedén, 1864). Guiana dolphin, costero

Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821). Common bottlenose dolphin

T. t. truncatus (Montagu, 1821). Common bottlenose dolphin

T. t. ponticus Barabash-Nikiforov, 1940. Black Sea bottlenose dolphin

Tursiops aduncus (Ehrenberg, 1833). Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin

Stenella attenuata (Gray, 1846). Pantropical spotted dolphin

S. a. attenuata (Gray, 1846). Offshore pantropical spotted dolphin

S. a. graffmani (Lönnberg, 1934). Coastal pantropical spotted dolphin

Stenella frontalis (G. Cuvier, 1829). Atlantic spotted dolphin

Stenella longirostris (Gray, 1828). Spinner dolphin

S. l. longirostris (Gray, 1828). Gray's spinner dolphin

S. l. orientalis Perrin, 1990. Eastern spinner dolphin

S. l. centroamericana Perrin, 1990. Central American spinner dolphin

S. l. roseiventris (Wagner, 1846). Dwarf spinner dolphin

Stenella clymene (Gray, 1850). Clymene dolphin

Stenella coeruleoalba (Meyen, 1833). Striped dolphin

Delphinus delphis Linnaeus, 1758. Short-beaked common dolphin, saddleback dolphin

D. d. delphis Linnaeus, 1758. Short-beaked common dolphin

D. d. ponticus Barabash, 1935. Black Sea common dolphin

Delphinus capensis Gray, 1828. Long-beaked common dolphin

D. c. capensis Gray, 1828. Long-beaked common dolphin

D. c. tropicalis van Bree, 1971. Indo-Pacific common dolphin

Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser, 1956. Fraser's dolphin

Lagenorhynchus albirostris (Gray, 1846). White­-beaked dolphin

Lagenorhynchus acutus (Gray, 1828). Atlantic white-sided dolphin

Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Gill, 1865. Pacific white-sided dolphin

Lagenorhynchus obscurus (Gray, 1828). Dusky dolphin

L. o. obscurus (Gray, 1828). African dusky dolphin

L. o. fitzroyi (Waterhouse, 1838). South American dusky dolphin

L. o. posidonia (Philippi, 1893). Peruvian/Chilean dusky dolphin

L. o. un-named subsp. New Zealand dusky dolphin

Lagenorhynchus australis (Peale, 1848). Peale's dolphin

Lagenorhynchus cruciger (Quoy and Gaimard, 1824). Hourglass dolphin

Lissodelphis borealis Peale, 1848. Northern right-whale dolphin

Lissodelphis peronii (Lacépède, 1804). Southern right-whale dolphin

Grampus griseus (G. Cuvier, 1812). Risso's dolphin, gray grampus

Peponocephala electra (Gray, 1846). Melon-headed whale, Electra dolphin

Feresa attenuata Gray, 1874. Pygmy killer whale

Pseudorca crassidens (Owen, 1846). False killer whale

Orcinus orca (Linnaeus, 1758). Killer whale, orca

O. o. un-named subsp. Resident killer whale

O. o. un-named subsp. Transient killer whale

Globicephala melas (Traill, 1809). Long-finned pilot whale

G. m. melas (Traill, 1809). North Atlantic long-finned pilot whale

G. m. edwardii (A. Smith, 1834). Southern long-finned pilot whale

G. m. un-named subsp. North Pacific long-finned pilot whale

Globicephala macrorhynchus Gray, 1846. Short­-finned pilot whale

Orcaella brevirostris (Owen in Gray, 1866). Ir­rawaddy dolphin, pesut

Orcaella heinsohni Beasley, Robertson and Arnold, 2005. Australian snubfin dolphin

Family Phocoenidae (porpoises, 7 species)

Neophocaena phocaenoides (G. Cuvier, 1829). Indo-Pacific fin­less porpoise

Neophocaena  asiaeorientalis Pilleri and Gihr, 1972. Narrow-ridged finless porpoise

N. a. asiaeorientalis Pilleri and Gihr, 1972. Yangtze finless porpoise

N. a. sunameri Pilleri and Gihr, 1975. East Asian finless porpoise, sunameri

Phocoena phocoena (Linnaeus, 1758). Harbor por­poise, common porpoise

P. p. phocoena (Linnaeus, 1758). Atlantic harbor porpoise

P. p. vomerina (Gill, 1865). Eastern Pacific harbor porpoise

P. p. relicta Abel, 1905. Black Sea harbor porpoise

P. p. un-named subsp. Western Pacific harbor porpoise

Phocoena sinus Norris and McFarland, 1958. Vaquita, Gulf of California harbor   porpoise

Phocoena spinipinnis Burmeister, 1865. Burmeister's porpoise

Phocoena dioptrica Lahille, 1912. Spectacled porpoise

Phocoenoides dalli (True, 1885). Dall's porpoise, Dall porpoise

P. d. dalli (True, 1885). Dalli-type Dall's porpoise

P. d. truei Andrews, 1911. Truei-type Dall's porpoise


ORDER SIRENIA (sirenians, 5 species – 1 extinct)

Family Trichechidae

Trichechus manatus Linnaeus, 1758. West Indian manatee

T. m. manatus Linnaeus, 1758. Antillean manatee

T. m. latirostris (Harlan, 1824). Florida manatee

Trichechus senegalensis Link, 1795. West African manatee

Trichechus inunguis (Natterer, 1883). Amazonian manatee

Family Dugongidae

Dugong dugon (Müller, 1776). Dugong

Hydrodamalis gigas (Zimmerman, 1780). Steller's sea cow - extinct


1Use of Order Cetartiodactyla is favored by most evolutionary mammalogists working with molecular data. Some others, including many marine mammalogists and paleontologists, favor retention of Order Cetacea in the interest of taxonomic stability.

2(from D. Rice) Baker et al. (2003) hold that there is no evidence that would support the classification of the right whales as more than a single biological species.  [The three species are here recognized as phylogenetic species.]


Agnarsson, I. and L. J. May-Collado. 2008. The phylogeny of Cetartiodactyla: the importance of dense taxon sampling, missing data, and the remarkable promise of cytochrome b to provide reliable species-level phylogenies. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 48:964—985.

Baker, A. N., A. N. H. Smith, and F. B. Pichler. 2002. Geographical variation in Hector's dolphin : recognition of a new subspecies of Cephalorhynchus hectori. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 32:713—727.

Baker, R. J., L. C. Bradley, R. D. Bradley, J. W. Dragoo, M  D., R. S. Hoffman, C. A Jones, F. Reid, D. W. Rice and C. Jones. 2003. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2003. Museum of Texas Tech University Occasional Papers 229:1—24.

Beasley, I., K. M. Robertson and P. Arnold.  2005.  Description of a new dolphin, the Australian snubfin dolphin Orcaella heinsohni sp. n. (Cetacea: Delphinidae).  Marine Mammal Science 21: 365--400.

Berta, A. and M. Churchill. In press. Pinniped taxonomy: review of currently recognized species and subspecies, and evidence used for their description. Mammal Review.

Brunner, S. 2004. Fur seals and sea lions (Otariidae): identification of species and taxonomic review. Systematics and Biodiversity 1:339—439.

Caballero, S., F. Trujillo, J. A. Vianna, H. Barrios-Garrido, M. G. Montiel, S. Beltrán-Pedreros, M. Marmontel, M. C. Santos, M. Rossi-Santos, F. R. Santos, and C. S. Baker.  2007.  Taxonomic status of the genus Sotalia: species-level ranking for "tucuxi" (Sotalia fluviatilis) and "costero" (Sotalia guianensis) dolphins.  Marine Mammal Science 23: 358--386.

Cirpriano, F. 1997. Antitropical distriubitions and speciation in dolphins of the genus Lagenorhynchus: a preliminary analysis. Pages 305—316 in A. E. Dizon, S. J. Chivers and W. F. Perrin (eds). Molecular genetics of marine mammals. Society for Marine Mammalogy Special Publication 3.

Clarke, R. 2004. Pygmy fin whales. Marine Mammal Science 20:329—334.

Dalebout, M. L., J. G. Mead, C. S. Baker, A. N. Baker, and A. L. van Helden.  2002.  A new species of beaked whale Mesoplodon perrini sp. n. (Cetacea: Ziphiidae) discovered through phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Marine Mammal Science 18:577--608.

Dasmahapatra, K. K., J. I. Hoffman and W. Amos. 2009. Pinniped phylogenetic relationships inferred using AFLP markers. Heredity 103:168—177.

de Queiroz, K. 2007. Species concepts and species delineation. Systematic Biology 56:879—886.

Domning, D. 1996. Bibliography and index of the Sirenia and Desmostylia. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 80:1—611.

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Last updated 13 December 2011 by members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Taxonomy:

  • William F. Perrin (Chair)
  • C. Scott Baker
  • Annalisa Berta
  • Daryl J. Boness
  • Robert L. Brownell, Jr.
  • Merel L. Dalebout
  • Daryl P. Domning
  • Rebecca M. Hamner
  • Thomas A. Jefferson
  • James G. Mead
  • Dale W. Rice
  • Patricia E. Rosel
  • John Y. Wang
  • Tadasu Yamada


# Marcos Santos 2010-11-26 21:33
Very well done! Congratulations ! It is very important for those who are also involved with classes in Academia to have this very well done list. Just a comment to help adjusting. In the list, the freshwater Sotalia (S. fluviatilis) had its common name quoted as "marine tucuxi". Those terms were extensively used in publications regarding the marine form (S. guianensis) up to the end of the 2000s when the genus was divided into 2 species. Thus, in the way it is listed, readers may use the terms "marine tucuxi" when assessing references in distinct databases, looking for references on the freshwater Sotalia, but will find several ones on the marine form. I suggest leaving only "tucuxi" for the freshwater species. Maybe add "marine tucuxi" to the list of common names of S. guianensis, which will probably be better than "costero", as it seems there is only one reference using the latter term. Several references used "estuarine" dolphin as well to S. guianensis. I know it is not possible to insert all common names, but I feel at least the "marine tucuxi" could be changed to just "tucuxi". Cheers and very well done list!!!
# Bill Perrin 2010-11-30 00:10
Your comments are right on the mark. For S. fluviatilis, "marine" (an error) will be removed. For S. guianensis, "costero" (not widely used) will be removed. We are not adding "estuarine dolphin" for the latter because of possible confusion with the almost strictly estuarine (and freshwater) Orcaella brevirostris. Bill Perrin
# Rui Prieto 2010-12-05 19:30
I've been using this intenselly; great for referencing, great for classes, Great... But I have one doubt: 3 Trichechidae + 2 Dugongidae = 6 Sirenia? There also seems that a return is needed between M. peruvians and M. bowdoini. Thak you so much for this listing.
# Bill Perrin 2010-12-06 00:32
Errors noted and will be corrected. Thanks for your keen scrutiny.
# Carlos Olavarria 2011-01-18 10:31
Hi, Thanks for doing this and keeping updated the list! I was thinking in otters. There are several species that have a marine distribution (the huillin or southern river otter has an extensive distribution in the marine environment of the Patagonian channels in southern South America, for example). Was discussed their inclusion in this list? I think that in Rice (1998) there is a mention to what would be considered a "marine mammal". Maybe it could be included also here, as many readers may wonder why a river dolphin or the caspian/baikal seals are included here. Cheers, Carlos
# Bill Perrin 2011-01-26 07:05
A good point, that has been much argued. The Eurasian otter Lutra lutra also may occur in the ocean, along the coast in Scotland, Norway and other places, although it does require access to fresh water. Since we certainly want to include the freshwater cetaceans, one way to go might be to list all aquatic mammals, but then we'd have to include beavers, muskrats, nutrias, water shrews, etc. as well as all the otters. So we decided to stay with tradition and just include the two otters that are strictly marine. Admittedly arbitrary, like many compromises. Bill Perrin
# Michael D. Scott 2011-03-02 14:12
Bill and Committee,
What was the Committee’s rationale for changing the common name of Tursiops truncatus from bottlenose dolphin to common bottlenose dolphin?
While the Committee notes that common names are arbitrary, this appears to be more arbitrary than most. Common bottlenose dolphin has no history of usage, and has no current usage by practioners in the field except when forced upon authors by editors of the Marine Mammal Science and The Encylopedia of Marine Mammals, 2nd edition. I understand a desire to better distinguish bottlenose dolphin from Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (T. aduncus), but common bottlenose dolphin is even more easily confused with the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). I believe that a common name should reflect what people actually call the beastie, and in this case the common name of T. truncatus should be the bottlenose dolphin. Michael Scott
# William F. Perrin 2011-03-07 12:39
As you note, "common bottlenose dolphin" is offered as a means to distinguish between T. truncatus and T. aduncus. Without some such differentiation , the two streams of information in the technical and popular literature could become confounded. Of course it is better to use a common name that is in common use, but this action follws the tradition that has resulted in such christenings in a number of cases when cetology has found out about more or less cryptic species in taxa with a single common name at the time: some of the Mesoplodon species, the two species of Kogia, the two Globicephala species (both called simply "pilot whales" until then), the two minke whales, etc.
In any case, common names have no legal or official standing; they vary from place to place and person to person, and one may use whatever one prefers.
# Davis Cortegana-Arias 2011-11-07 22:29
First, congratulations on the compiling and fast updating of the list. There's a doubt about Galapagos Fur Seal, which is listed as Arctophoca a. galapagoensis, I take that as part of A. australis, but a clarification would be very helpful. Again, thank you very much!
# William F. Perrin 2011-11-09 11:28
Thank you for noting that error. The species is Arctophoca galapagoensis. We will correct the list.
# Sean Todd 2011-12-20 10:13
Bill and Committee,

What an excellent resource, congratulations !. Does the committee have any thought to creating an official citation for this list so that others may officially quote it when in need of taxonomic guidance? There are several texts out there that we currently use for this purpose, but they are getting somewhat dated and with the way technology is advancing, having an updatable list on the web from a recognized team of experts seems to be the way to go. Or am I being naive to the level of controversy that some of this classification represents? ;-)
# William F. Perrin 2011-12-21 11:48
William F. Perrin

Thanks for the positive comment. There is a box at the top of the list that shows how it can be cited.
Inevitably, there will be controversy about what's in the list. Much of taxonomy is a matter of opinion, enlightened or otherwise. All taxa are in essence hypotheses. All we can do in the Committee is give it our best shot.
# Johnson Kara 2012-03-13 14:24
thank you so much for this list! I am giving a talk about marine mammals and wanted to include the number of species per order and family. This list was a great resource for me.

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