Whales & dolphins – CETACEA

Bottlenose dolphin

According to the Atlas of Living Australia, at least 34 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded off South Australia’s coast. All marine mammals are protected in South Australia under the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1972. Federal protection for cetacea exists under the EPBC Act 1999. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) maintains international conservation listings for each species. As you can see below, many of these species are data deficient, meaning that their populations are not sufficiently known to be able to detect their growth or reduction.

Photo sightings of some of these species can be seen at this iNaturalist project.

Genus Species Common name Described IUCN AUS SA
Balaenoptera acutorostrata Dwarf minke whale 1804, Lacépède Least concern Rare
Balaenoptera bonaerensis Antarctic minke whale 1867, Burmeister Data deficient
Balaenoptera edeni Bryde’s whale 1878, Anderson Data deficient Rare
Balaenoptera musculus Blue whale 1758, Linnaeus Endangered Endangered Endangered
Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda Pygmy blue whale 1966, Ichihara Data deficient
Balaenoptera musculus intermedia Blue whale 1871, Burmeister Critically endangered
Balaenoptera omurai Omura’s whale 2003, Wada, Oishi & Yamada Data deficient
Balaenoptera physalus Fin whale 1758, Linnaeus Endangered Vulnerable Vulnerable
Berardius arnuxii Arnoux’s beaked whale 1851, Duvernoy Data deficient Rare
Caperea marginata Pygmy right whale 1846, J. E. Gray Least concern Rare
Delphinus delphis delphis Short-beaked common dolphin 1758, Linnaeus Least concern
Eubalaena australis Southern right whale 1822, Desmoulins Least concern Endangered Vulnerable
Feresa attenuata Pygmy killer whale 1874, J. E. Gray Data deficient
Globicephala macrorhynchus Short-finned pilot whale 1846, J. E. Gray Data deficient Rare
Globicephala melas Long-finned pilot whale 1809, Traill Data deficient
Grampus griseus Risso’s dolphin 1812, Cuvier Least concern Rare
Hyperoodon planifrons Southern bottle-nosed whale 1882, Flower Least concern Rare
Kogia breviceps Pygmy sperm whale 1838, Blainville Data deficient Rare
Kogia sima Dwarf sperm whale 1866, Owen Data deficient Rare
Lagenorhynchus obscurus Dusky dolphin 1828, J. E. Gray Data deficient
Lissodelphis peronii Southern right whale dolphin 1804, Lacépède Data deficient
Megaptera novaeangliae Humpback whale 1781, Borowski Least concern Vulnerable Vulnerable
Mesoplodon bowdoini Andrew’s beaked whale 1908, Andrews Data deficient Rare
Mesoplodon grayi Gray’s beaked whale 1876, von Haast Data deficient Rare
Mesoplodon hectori Hector’s beaked whale 1871, J. E. Gray Data deficient Rare
Mesoplodon layardii Strap-toothed beaked whale 1865, J. E. Gray Data deficient
Orcinus orca Killer whale 1758, Linnaeus Data deficient
Phocaena dioptrica Spectacled porpoise 1912, Lahille Data deficient
Physeter macrocephalus Sperm whale 1758, Linnaeus Vulnerable Rare
Pseudorca crassidens False killer whale 1846, Owen Data deficient Rare
Tasmacetus shepherdi Shepherd’s beaked whale 1937, Oliver Data deficient Rare
Tursiops aduncus Long-beaked bottle-nosed dolphin 1832, Ehrenberg Data deficient
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin 1821, Montagu Least concern
Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier’s beaked whale 1823, Cuvier Least concern Rare

Revision log

  • 28 April 2015 – Dan Monceaux
  • 19 June 2019 – Added link to new iNaturalist project

List contributors: Dan Monceaux, Libby Eyre

One thought on “Whales & dolphins – CETACEA”
  1. Hi. Not sure if this is useful info, as it is obviously anecdotal and the incident is now over a decade old, but I’m pretty sure I saw a single Rough Toothed Dolphin/Steno bredanensis swimming with a pod of Bottlenoses while I was surfing near Sheringa beach, Eyre Peninsula once.
    Basically, the dolphins came through the line up and for a split second I thought I was looking at a decent sized shark in amongst them because this one just happened to be swimming on it’s side as it passed me. Once my brain worked out that it wasn’t actually a vertical tail fin etc I paid more atttention to the rest of it, and it definitely didn’t look like a ‘normal’ dolphin.
    I’d never really considered that there were multiple other species apart from Bottlenoses and Commons, but when I looked it up later, features like the low slung crocodile looking mouth, lack of noticeable melon bulge and blotchy belly skin matched pretty much spot on with what I feel like I saw.
    I now know from looking on the distribution maps that they are not really supposed to reach here, but I’m around 90% sure that it is what I saw that day.
    Hopefully someone finds this interesting, if not useful.

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