Angie Gullan / Dolphin Encountours Research Center

04 Feb Beaked whale research

Our focus on beaked whales

The WCA Partnership has identified beaked whales as a conservation focus because the concerns of scientists over the status of several species is currently set against a background of extremely limited scientific knowledge. Beaked whales are generally shy, deep diving mammals, usually occurring far from shore which makes them difficult to study. Most beaked whale species are classed as data deficient (DD) by the The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The World Cetacean Alliance is concerned that many of these species may be ‘slipping under the radar’ because of our limited knowledge, emphasized by the fact that beaked whale scientists are discovering an increasing number of issues impacting upon them. These include their vulnerability to a range of identified threats (visit our Beaked Whale Resource: Summary of Threats to find out more).

The WCA is working to facilitate collaboration between beaked whale researchers and data collectors to further our understanding of beaked whales and the potential threats they face. Our aim is to identify major knowledge gaps and technologies that can help to address these. We also aim to investigate the current beaked whale listings that are listed as DD by the IUCN to determine whether any species could be re-assessed using new information that has become available since their original listings, which could then possibly lead to further protection measures where necessary.

Beaked Whale Resources

Beaked Whale Advisory Group

The WCA has formed a Beaked Whale Advisory Group with the aim of prioritizing the need to move beaked whale species of conservation concern off the current IUCN Red List of Data Deficient species.

We ask that those who would like to participate in this discussion do so using our beaked whale forum google group.  If you would like to join the Beaked Whale Advisory Group please contact to be added to the google group. 

Past Actions

The WCA convened a Sidebar Meeting at the European Cetacean Society (ECS) Conference in Madeira, March 2016, to discuss next steps.

Actions include:

1)      A beaked whale experts googlegroup has been established as a platform for discussion among interested stakeholders:!forum/wca-beaked-whale-forum

2)      In the short-term, the googlegroup will act as a Beaked Whale Advisory Group, which may be further developed into a Beaked Whale Working Group, possibly at the next ECS Conference or Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) Conference.

3)      The Advisory Group will plan a targeted Beaked Whale Workshop (focusing on the most important areas / species deemed by the group to be of conservation concern). Workshops will likely take place at the forthcoming ECS and SMM Conferences and will include targeted species or regional break-out groups.

4)    The Advisory Group (through googlegroups) will provide initial advice on species / regions which it feels are particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts.

5)   A voluntary Beaked Whale Project Manager will be identified to assist the Advisory Group to narrow its focus to those species / areas suggested to be most at risk. These species / areas will form the focus of the planned workshops for the forthcoming ECS and SMM Conferences.

6)    The WCA Science Working Group will create an online resource of relevant information to assist the Beaked Whale Advisory Group.

7)    The Beaked Whale Advisory Group will prioritise the need to move species of conservation concern off the current IUCN Red List of Data Deficient species (DD).

Future Actions

-proposal for beaked whale workshop at upcoming SMM

Cuvier Natacha Aguilar ULL
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