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Red List Status of Cetaceans - March 2022
Gill Braulik, Barbara Taylor, Gianna Minton, Justin Cooke, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Randall Reeves
The Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG) is the official IUCN Red List Authority responsible for assessing global threat levels for cetacean species. Between 2017 and 2022, the CSG undertook a reassessment of 90 of the 92 currently recognized cetacean species, as well as many subspecies and subpopulations. A total of 111 new or updated assessments were published in the last 5 years. Of the 92 cetacean species assessed for the Red List, one in every four (26%, n=24) is assigned to a threatened category (Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable). Just over half (53%, n=49) are classified as Least Concern, 11% (n=10) as Near Threatened, and 10% (n=9) as Data Deficient. Revised taxonomy, availability of new information, and amendments to the Red List guidelines make tracking changes in the Red List status of cetaceans complex. Significant changes that have occurred in the last year include 1) completion of the assessment of Rice?s whale, a newly recognised species, soon to be listed as Critically Endangered, 2) completion of assessments of the Indus River dolphin and Ganges River dolphin, now recognized as distinct species, both listed as Endangered, and 3) publication of 10 new, or updated, assessments of Mediterranean subpopulations most of which are listed in threatened categories. The CSG is currently designing a new prioritization strategy for identifying subspecies and subpopulations that merit new assessments or updated assessments where they are most likely to promote and facilitate conservation planning and action. While details of strategy are still in development, the basic underlying philosophy is that infra-species units should be selected for assessment based on both demographic independence and their biological and ecological importance to the species. These prioritized units are likely to overlap with IWC priorities, emphasizing the desirability of communication and coordination.