[MARMAM] Statement of concern - Extinction risk to cetaceans

Els Vermeulen elsvermeulen5 at gmail.com
Sat Aug 29 22:29:30 PDT 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This message is to invite you to sign onto the attached statement of
concern, which we hope speaks for itself.

Many of us have worked on cetacean conservation for some time, and whilst
there are some signs of population recoveries in some cases, the
situation for many populations and species is still deteriorating and, for
some, it is critical. So, it seems appropriate for those of us with
expertise to now stand together, highlight this situation and call for more

If you would like to add your name onto the list of supporters of the
statement, please send to us the following:

· your name as you would like it to appear;

· any letters that you would like to display after your name;

· the name of your institution; and

· your country.

Our emails are mark.simmonds at sciencegyre.co.uk and elsvermeulen5 at gmail.com

The document has been reviewed and we are unable at this stage to accept
any proposals for changes. Apart from personal support, we are also looking
for people to help launch it, so that people in positions of influence take
note of it. This will happen in about two weeks’ time.

A final copy of the statement will be published on the Mammal Research
Institute Whale Unit’s website with an updated list of names in due course

Thank you for taking the time to look at this.  We hope you will support it.

Apologies for any cross-posting.

Take good care,

Best wishes,

Mark and Els


We, the undersigned scientists, raise here our gravest concerns about the
extinction risk to many species and populations of cetaceans (whales,
dolphins and porpoises).

Each one of us is a cetacean specialist and each one of us believes this
issue is now critical.  The lack of concrete action to address threats
adversely affecting cetaceans in our increasingly busy, polluted,
over-exploited and human-dominated seas and major river systems, means that
many, one after another, will likely be declared extinct within our

Even the large whales are not safe. The recent listing of the North
Atlantic right whale, *Eubalaena glacialis*, by the International Union for
Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered reveals the serious
failure of its relatively wealthy range countries to address a critical
decline. Moreover, the factors driving this ongoing decline are well known,
and, we believe, could be addressed. Only a few hundred North Atlantic
right whale adults remain and, unless appropriate action comes soon, we
will undoubtedly lose this entire species.

Similarly, the Critically Endangered vaquita, *Phocoena sinus*, of the Gulf
of California, Mexico, sits poised on the knife-edge of extinction, with an
estimated population size that may be as low as only ten individuals.

It is now almost inevitable that these two species will follow the baiji or
Chinese river dolphin, *Lipotes vexillifer, *down the road to extinction.
The baiji was identified as ‘Possibly Extinct’ by the IUCN in 2017 and,
regrettably, there is little hope for this species. We believe, in all
three cases, that enough was known about the situation of the species
concerned for these dramatic declines to have been avoided, but that the
political will to take action has been lacking.

The bleak outlook for these three species shows how often too little is
done too late. Of the 90 living species of cetaceans, more than half now
have a concerning conservation status according to the IUCN, with 13 species
listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ or ‘Endangered’, 7 as ‘Vulnerable’ and 7
as ‘Near Threatened’, whilst 24 species are ‘Data Deficient’. These ‘Data
Deficient’ species may also be imperilled.  We simply do not know. This
lack of clear information about so many species and populations is itself a
major concern.

Additionally, there are 32 subspecies and other distinct cetacean
populations which are presently either Endangered or Critically Endangered
(please see the list below for further details), and with ongoing research
we are recognizing more populations of cetaceans that are discrete and
require conservation action. Regrettably, as the cases of the Lahille’s
bottlenose dolphin* (Tursiops truncatus gephyreus)* of the subtropical
western South Atlantic, the Gulf of Corinth common dolphin (*Delphinus
delphis)* and the orcas (*Orcinus orca)* of the Strait of Gibraltar all
illustrate, recognition of their distinctiveness may coincide with the
realization that their population is already in danger of extinction.

Cetacean populations are adversely affected by many interacting factors,
including chemical and noise pollution, loss of habitat and prey, climate
change and ship-strikes. For many, foremost among these threats is
incidental take in fishing operations.

Bearing these urgent matters in mind and with the knowledge that cetacean
populations can be lost very quickly, we call on:

countries with cetaceans in their waters to take precautionary action to
ensure these species and populations are adequately protected from human
activities, including implementing appropriate and fully resourced
monitoring. We note that improved monitoring technologies now offer new
opportunities to observe and address activities at sea; and

all nations to both work with and strengthen the relevant international
bodies that seek to address threats to cetaceans, including, but not
limited to, the International Whaling Commission and the Convention for the
Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, both of which are
generating important conservation initiatives at this time. Foremost among
other relevant international organisations are the regional fisheries
bodies, which can address fishing-related threats to cetaceans, noting the
urgent need to address such impacts on many populations.

Finally, we note that cetacean conservation, like much that relates to the
marine environment, may be a concern that seems remote to many people.
However, as the COVID-19  pandemic has shown, our connection to nature is a
key component in our own wellbeing. Whales, dolphins and porpoises are seen
and enjoyed all over the world, and are valued as sentient, intelligent,
social and inspiring species; we should not deny future generations the
opportunity to experience them. They are also sentinels of the health of
our seas, oceans and, in some cases, major river systems and the role of
cetaceans in maintaining productive aquatic ecosystems, which are key for
our survival as well as theirs, is also becoming clearer.

Please bring this statement to the attention of the relevant policy makers
in your country and help us to help the cetaceans.

Species and populations of cetaceans that are deemed at risk of extinction

The list shows only the species, subspecies and distinct populations
labelled as ‘Critically Endangered’ (CR), ‘Endangered’ (EN) or ‘Vulnerable’
(VU) and displays the latest assessment by the IUCN (highlighted in red) and,
where available, the previous assessment, with their dates.

‘Global population’ refers to the status of the whole species or

The population trend is also noted: I = Increasing, D = Decreasing, S =
Stable, ? = Unknown.


Bowhead whale, *Balaena mysticetus*

East Greenland-Svalbard-Barents Sea subpopulation 2012: CR, 2018: EN, ?

Okhotsk Sea subpopulation 2012: EN, 2018: EN, D

North Atlantic right whale, *Eubalaena glacialis*, Global population, 2018:
EN, 2020: CR, D

                              European population, 2007: CR, ?

North Pacific right whale, *Eubalaena japonica*, Global population, 2008:
EN, 2017: EN, ?

                              Northeast Pacific subpopulation, 2008: CR,
2017: CR, ?

Southern right whale, *Eubalaena australis*

Chile-Peru subpopulation, 2013: CR, 2017: CR, ?


Blue whale, *Balaenoptera musculus*, Global population, 2008: EN, 2018: EN,

                              European population 2007: EN, ?

Antarctic blue whale, *Balaenoptera musculus *ssp*. intermedia*, Global
population 2008: CR, 2018: CR, I

Bryde’s whale, *Balaenoptera edeni*

Gulf of Mexico subpopulation, 2017: CR, D

Fin whale, *Balaenoptera physalus,* Global population, 2013: EN, 2018: VU, I

                              Mediterranean population 2011: VU, D

Humpback whale, *Megaptera novaeangliae*

Oceania subpopulation, 2008: EN, I

Arabian Sea subpopulation 2008: EN, ?

Sei whale, *Balaenoptera borealis*, Global population, 2008: EN, 2018: EN, I

                              European population, 2007: EN, ?


Gray whale, *Eschrichtius robustus*

Western North Pacific subpopulation, 2008: CR, 2018: EN, I


Atlantic humpback dolphin, *Sousa teuszii*, Global population, 2012: VU,
2017: CR, D

Australian humpback dolphin, *Sousa sahulensis*, Global population, 2015: VU,

Australian snubfin dolphin, *Orcaella heinsohni*, Global population, 2008:
NT, 2017: VU, D

Common bottlenose dolphin, *Tursiops truncatus*

Mediterranean population, 2009: VU, D

Fiordland subpopulation, New Zealand, 2010: CR, D

Black Sea bottlenose dolphin, *Tursiops truncatus *ssp.* ponticus*, Global
population, 2008: EN, ?

Lahille’s bottlenose dolphin, *Tursiops truncatus *ssp*. gephyreus*, Global
population, 2019: VU, D

Hector’s dolphin, *Cephalorhynchus hectori*, Global population, 2000: EN,
2008: EN, D

North Island Hector’s dolphin, *Cephalorhynchus hectori *ssp*. maui*,
Global population, 2000: CR, 2008: CR, D

Indian Ocean humpback dolphin, *Sousa plumbea*, Global population, 2015: EN,

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, *Sousa chinensis*, Global population, 2015:

Taiwanese humpback dolphin, *Sousa chinensis *spp.* taiwanensis*, Global
population, 2008: CR, 2017: CR, D

Irrawaddy dolphin, *Orcaella brevirostris*, Global population, 2008: VU,
2017: EN, D

Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar subpopulation, 2004: CR, D

Iloilo-Guimaras, Philippines subpopulation, 2018: CR, D

Mahakam river, Indonesia subpopulation, 2000: CR, 2008: CR, ?

Malampaya Sound, Philippines subpopulation, 2004: CR, D

Mekong River subpopulation, 2004: CR, D

Songkhla Lake, Thailand subpopulation, 2004: CR, D

Peruvian dusky dolphin, *Lagenorhynchus obscurus *ssp.* posidonia*, Global
population, 2019: VU, ?

Killer whale, *Orcinus orca*

Straits of Gibraltar subpopulation, 2019: CR, S

Short-beaked common dolphin*, Delphinus delphis*,

Mediterranean population, 2003: EN, D

Gulf of Corinth subpopulation, 2019: CR, ?

Black Sea short-beaked common dolphin, *Delphinus delphis *ssp.* ponticus*,
Global population, 2008: VU, Unspecified

Eastern spinner dolphin,* Stenella longirostris *ssp*. orientalis*. Global
population, 2008: VU, I

Striped dolphin, *Stenella coeruleoalba*

Mediterranean population, 2010: VU, ?


Amazon river dolphin, *Inia geoffrensis*, Global population, 2011: DD,
2018: EN, D


Baiji, *Lipotes vexillifer*, Global population, 2008: CR, 2017: CR, D


Beluga, *Delphinapterus leucas*

Cook Inlet, United States subpopulation, 2012: CR, 2018: CR, D


Harbour porpoise, *Phocoena phocoena*

European population, 2007: VU, D

Baltic Sea subpopulation, 1996: VU, 2008: CR, D

Black Sea harbour porpoise, *Phocoena phocoena *ssp*. relicta*, Global
population, 1996: VU, 2008: EN, D

Indo-Pacific finless porpoise, *Neophocaena phocaenoides*, Global
population, 2012: VU, 2017: VU, D

Narrow-ridged finless porpoise, *Neophocaena asiaeorientalis*, Global
population, 2012: VU, 2017: EN, D

Yangtze finless porpoise, *Neophocaena asiaeorientalis *ssp.
*asiaeorientalis*, Global population, 1996: EN, 2012: CR, D

Vaquita, *Phocoena sinus*, Global population, 2008: CR, 2017: CR, D


Sperm whale, *Physeter macrocephalus*, Global population, 2008: VU, 2019: VU
?                         European population, 2007: VU, ?

Mediterranean population, 2006: EN, D


South Asian river dolphin, *Platanista gangetica*, Global population, 2012:
EN, 2017: EN, ?

Ganges river dolphin, *Platanista gangetica *ssp.* gangetica*, Global
population, 1996: EN, 2004: EN, D

Indus river dolphin, *Platanista gangetica ssp.** minor*, Global
population, 1996: EN, 2004: EN, ?


Franciscana, *Pontoporia blainvillei*, Global population, 2012: VU, 2017: VU,

Rio Grande do Sul/Uruguay subpopulation, 2003: VU, D


Cuvier’s beaked whale, *Ziphius cavirostris*

Mediterranean population, 2012: DD, 2018: VU, D

This Statement is supported by the following people: [Provisional list]

Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho PhD, Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas
(CONANP), Mexico

Mark Peter Simmonds OBE, University of Bristol, UK

C. Scott Baker PhD, Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University, USA

Els Vermeulen PhD, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Erich Hoyt, co-chair, IUCN SSC/WCPA Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task
Force, UK

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara PhD, co-chair, IUCN Task Force on Marine
Mammal Protected Areas, Italy

Ellen Hines PhD, San Francisco State University, USA

Pedro Fruet PhD, Museu Oceanográfico "Prof. Eliézer de C. Rios",
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande-FURG & Kaosa, Brazil.

Laetitia Nunny MSc, Wild Animal Welfare, Spain

Eduardo R. Secchi PhD, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande-FURG, Brazil

Artur Andriolo PhD, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora/ Instituto
Aqualie, Brazil

Stephanie Plön PhD, Bayworld Centre for Research and Education, South Africa

Elisabeth Slooten PhD, University of Otago, New Zealand

Alexandre N. Zerbini PhD, Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ecosystem and
Ocean Studies, University of Washington & Marine Mammal Laboratory,
AFSC/NOAA, USA - Instituto Aqualie, Brazil

Mariano A. Coscarella PhD, CESIMAR-CONICET, Universidad Nacional de la
Patagonia San Juan Bosco, Argentina

Frank Cipriano PhD, California Academy of Science, USA

Juan Pablo Torres-Florez PhD, ICMBio/CMA, Brazil

Karen A Stockin PhD, Massey University, New Zealand

Olaf Meynecke PhD, Griffith University, Australia

Ada Natoli PhD, Zayed University, UAE Dolphin Project, UAE

Daren Grover, Project Jonah New Zealand

Steve Dawson PhD, University of Otago, New Zealand

Silvia Frey PhD, KYMA sea conservation & research, Switzerland

Dipani Sutaria, Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Network of India,

Carolina Loch PhD, University of Otago New Zealand

Susan Bengtson-Nash, Assoc Professor, Griffith University, Australia

Isabel C. Avila PhD, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia

Krista Hupman PhD, NIWA, New Zealand

Mike Bossley PhD, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Australia

Will Rayment PhD, University of Otago, New Zealand

Isabella Clegg PhD, Animal Welfare Expertise, Sydney, Australia

Meike Scheidat PhD, Wageningen Marine Research, University of Wageningen,
The Netherlands

Fabian Ritter, President, MEER e.V., Germany

Naomi A. Rose PhD, Animal Welfare Institute, USA

Katharina J. Peters PhD, Massey University, New Zealand

Emma Betty PhD, Massey University, New Zealand

Raphaela Stimmelmayr PhD, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA.

Kerstin Bilgmann PhD, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Miguel Iñíguez Bessega MSc, Fundación Cethus, Argentina

Vanesa Reyes Reyes PhD, Fundación Cethus, Argentina, and Whale and Dolphin
Conservation, UK

David G Kaplan Esq, Cetacean Society International, USA

Claudio Campagna, WCS, Argentina

Joan Gonzalvo PhD, Tethys Research Institute, Italy

Diego Rodríguez PhD, Mar del Plata University, Argentina

Fernando Trujillo PhD, Fundacion Omacha, Colombia and Correspondence Member
of the Science Academy of Colombia

Danielle Kreb PhD, Yayasan Konservasi RASI, Indonesia

George Sangster PhD, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, The Netherlands

Jolanda Luksenburg PhD, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden
University, The Netherlands

Cornelis J. Hazevoet PhD, Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência,
Lisbon, Portugal

Cristina Milani PhD, Italy

Alexander Werth PhD, Hampden-Sydney College, USA

Caroline Weir PhD, Ketos Ecology, United Kingdom

Colin D. MacLeod PhD, GIS IN Ecology, UK

Prof. Giovanni Di Guardo, DVM, Dipl. ECVP, University of Teramo, Faculty of
Veterinary Medicine, Italy

Robin W. Baird Ph.D., Cascadia Research Collective, USA

Jeremy J. Kiszka PhD, Florida International University, Miami, USA

Arda M. Tonay PhD, Faculty of Aquatic Sciences, Istanbul University /
Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), Turkey

Rebecca M Boys, Massey University, New Zealand

Giovanni Bearzi PhD, Dolphin Biology and Conservation, Italy

Marta Hevia, Fundación Cethus, Argentina

Mariano Sironi PhD, Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas, Argentina

Paulo H. Ott PhD, Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Sul – Uergs &
Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul – GEMARS,

Lindsay Porter PhD, IUCN Species Survival Commission-Cetacean Specialist
Group, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Emmanuelle Martinez PhD., NorthTec, New Zealand

Lindy Weilgart PhD, Dalhousie University, Canada and OceanCare, Switzerland

Beatrice Jann, President Swiss Whale Society SWG, Switzerland

Enrico Gennari PhD, Oceans Research Institute, South Africa

Simone Panigada PhD, President, Tethys Research Institute

Marijke Nita de Boer PhD, University of Wageningen, The Netherlands

Maria Jiménez A. MSc, Fundación Conservaré, Colombia

Hanna Nuuttila PhD, Swansea University, UK

Meredith Thornton, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Michael Stachowitsch PhD, University of Vienna, Austria

Joan Giménez PhD, University College Cork, Ireland

Draško Holcer PhD, Blue World Institute of Marine Research and
Conservation, Croatia

Liliane Lodi PhD, Instituto Mar Adentro, Brazil

Sarah Dolman MSc, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, UK

Pablo Denuncio PhD, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata / CONICET,

Patricia Burkhardt-Holm Dr. rer.nat., Professor of Ecology, University of
Basel, Switzerland

Patrick Lyne C.Mar.Sci., IWDG, DMAD, MMOA, Ireland

Paulo C. Simões-Lopes, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Aquatic
Mammals Lab (LAMAQ) BrazilSharon Young MSc, Humane Society of the United
States, USA

Janet Mann PhD, Georgetown University, USA

Leonardo L. Wedekin PhD, Socioambiental Consultores Associados, Brazil

Lars Bejder PhD,  University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Milton Marcondes DVM, Research Coordinator – Humpback Whale Institute,

Mauricio Cantor PhD, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina & Max Planck
Institute of Animal Behaviour, Brazil

Peter Mackelworth PhD, Blue World Institute, Croatia

Hal Whitehead PhD, Dalhousie University, Canada

Ida Carlén, Coalition Clean Baltic, Sweden

Nicola Hodgins, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) & University of
Exeter, UK

Ignacio Benites Moreno PhD, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul,

Monique Pool, Green Heritage Fund Suriname, Suriname

Marina Costa PhD, Tethys Research Institute, Italy

Simon Elwen PhD, Sea Search Research and Conservation, Stellenbosch
University, South Africa

Tess Gridley PhD, Sea Search Research and Conservation, Stellenbosch
University, South Africa

Randall Reeves, chair, IUCN/SSC Cetacean Specialist Group, Canada

Bill Fulton BSc Dip Aut Comp, Living Ocean Inc, Australia

Camila Domit PhD, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Paraná, Brazil

Jose David Palacios Alfaro Lic, Fundación Keto, Costa Rica

Gianni Pavan, University of Pavia, Italy

Suwat Jutapruet PhD, Prince of Songkla University, Surat Thani Campus,

Denise Risch PhD, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Scotland,

Anoukchika D Ilangakoon MSc, IUCN SSC - Cetacean Specialist Group, Sri Lanka

Gianna Minton PhD, Megaptera Marine Conservation, The Netherlands

Fredrik Christiansen PhD, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark

R. Ewan Fordyce, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Vic Cockcroft PhD, Nelson Mandela University. South Africa.

Graham John Pierce, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (CSIC), Spain

Manuel E. dos Santos PhD, MARE-ISPA, Portugal

Shane Gero PhD, Dalhousie University, Aarhus University, and The Dominica
Sperm Whale Project, Canada/Dominica

David Gruber PhD, City University of New York, USA

Michael J. Tetley PhD,  IMMA Coordinator, IUCN SSC/WCPA Marine Mammal
Protected Areas Task Force, UK

Frants H. Jensen PhD, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA

Robert Wood PhD, Harvard University, USA

Florent Nicolas, Groupe d´Etude des Cétacés du Cotentin, France

Nicholas Tregenza DCH, University of Exeter, UK.

Anastasia Miliou, Scientific Director, Archipelagos Institute of Marine
Conservation, Greece

Sandra Hörbst MSc, Gansbaai South Africa

Steven Benjamins PhD, Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK

Trish Franklin PhD,  The Oceania Project and Southern Cross University,

Wally Franklin, PhD, The Oceania Project and Southern Cross University,

Kevin Robinson PhD Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit, Scotland

Jimena Belgrano, Fundación Cethus, Argentina

Jörn Selling, firmm.org, Spain

Caterina Fortuna PhD, National Institute for Environmental Protection and
Research (Italy)

Isabel García-Barón PhD, Institution: AZTI, Spain

Natacha Aguilar de Soto PhD, University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary
Islands, Spain

Jean-Luc Jung PhD, HDR, ISYEB, UMR 7205, Museum National d'Histoire
Naturelle, et Université de Brest,  France

Gill Braulik PhD, University of St. Andrews, UK

Mario Acquarone PhD, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, Norway

Peter Corkeron PhD, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, New England
Aquarium, USA

Alana Alexander PhD, University of Otago, New Zealand

Rochelle Constantine PhD, University of Auckland | Te Whare Wananga o
Tāmaki Makaurau, New Zealand

Laura J May-Collado PhD, Smithsonian Research Tropical Institute,Panama and
CIMAR-Universidad de Costa Rica

Astrid Frisch Jordán, Ecología y Conservación de Ballenas (ECOBAC), México

Krishna Das PhD, University of Liège, Belgium

Thibaut Bouveroux PhD, University of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab,
Alabama, USA

Philippa Brakes, Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, New

Ursula K. Verfuss PhD, SMRU Consulting, UK

Marta Azzolin PhD, University of Torino and Gaia Research Institute Onlus,

Maša Frleta - Valić, Blue World Institute of Marine Research and
Conservation, Croatia

Michael Stocker, Director, Ocean Conservation Research, California, USA

Natacha Aguilar de Soto, PhD, University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary
Islands, Spain

Paola Tepsich PhD, CIMA Research Foundation, Italy

Weerapong Laovechprasit DVM Thailand Fulbright Fellow, University of
Georgia, Thailand

Emma Carroll PhD, Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau University of
Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

Alexandros Frantzis PhD, Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, Greece

Javier Almunia PhD, Loro Parque Fundación, Spain

Katrina Johnson, Bates College, USA

Sarah Dwyer PhD, Far Out Ocean Research Collective, New Zealand

Rodrigo García Píngaro, Organization for Cetacean Conservation of Uruguay,

Andrew Stanworth PhD, Falklands Conservation, Falkland Islands
Helena Herr PhD, University of Hamburg, Germany

Dr Els Vermeulen - Research Manager
Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit
Department of Zoology and Entomology
University of Pretoria, South Africa

Office: Shop 11 Astoria Village, Main Road, Hermanus 7200
Cell: +27 (0)60 9714301

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