U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE, DOI: 10.1111/mms.12281


U.S. Government Work


No global synthesis of the status of baleen whales has been published since the 2008 IUCN Red List assessments. Many populations remain at low numbers from historical commercial whaling, which had ceased for all but a few by 1989. Fishing gear entanglement and ship strikes are the most severe current threats. The acute and long-term effects of anthropogenic noise and the cumulative effects of multiple stressors are of concern but poorly understood. The looming consequences of climate change and ocean acidification remain difficult to characterize. North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales are among the species listed as Endangered. Southern right, bowhead, and gray whales have been assessed as Least Concern but some subpopulations of these species - western North Pacific gray whales, Chile-Peru right whales, and Svalbard/Barents Sea and Sea of Okhotsk bowhead whales - remain at low levels and are either Endangered or Critically Endangered. Eastern North Pacific blue whales have reportedly recovered, but Antarctic blue whales remain at about 1% of pre-exploitation levels. Small isolated subspecies or subpopulations, such as northern Indian Ocean blue whales, Arabian Sea humpback whales, and Mediterranean Sea fin whales are threatened while most subpopulations of sei, Bryde’s, and Omura’s whales are inadequately monitored and difficult to assess.