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Cetacean Taxonomy

Classification of the Order Cetartiodactyla as adopted by the International Whaling Commission (Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 2003), with updates proposed by the editors following recent taxonomic revisions and new discoveries.

Common names in Italian based on Notarbartolo di Sciara and Cagnolaro (1987)* except for “NEW” names, proposed by Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara and Giovanni Bearzi following recent taxonomic revisions and new discoveries.

* Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Cagnolaro, L. 1987. I nomi italiani dei cetacei. It. J. Zool. 4:359-365.

A site with cetacean names in German also exists and it has been based on the table below. While we take no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided there, we find such initiative very valuable.


Scientific name

  ENG Common name

ITA Nome comune

Mysticeti (baleen whales or mysticetes)
Family Balaenidae
Eubalaena australis southern right whale balena franca australe
Eubalaena glacialis North Atlantic right whale balena franca nordatlantica NEW
Eubalaena japonica North Pacific right whale balena franca nordpacifica NEW
Balaena mysticetus bowhead whale balena della Groenlandia
Family Neobalaenidae
Caperea marginata pygmy right whale caperea
Family Eschrichtiidae
Eschrichtius robustus gray whale balena grigia
Family Balaenopteridae
Balaenoptera acutorostrata common minke whale balenottera minore
Balaenoptera bonaerensis Antarctic minke whale balenottera minore antartica NEW
Balaenoptera borealis sei whale balenottera boreale
Balaenoptera brydei Bryde’s whale balenottera di Bryde
Balaenoptera edeni Eden’s whale balenottera di Eden NEW
Balaenoptera musculus blue whale balenottera azzurra
Balaenoptera omurai Omura’s whale balenottera di Omura NEW
Balaenoptera physalus fin whale balenottera comune
Megaptera novaeangliae humpback whale megattera
Odontoceti (toothed whales or odontocetes)
Family Physeteridae
Physeter macrocephalus sperm whale capodoglio
Family Kogiidae
Kogia breviceps pygmy sperm whale cogia di De Blainville
Kogia sima dwarf sperm whale cogia di Owen
Family Platanistidae
Platanista gangetica South Asian river dolphin platanista NEW
Family Pontoporiidae
Pontoporia blainvillei franciscana pontoporia
Family Lipotidae
† Lipotes vexillifer baiji lipote


The baiji is though to be functionally exctinct, both in the wild and in captivity. A dedicated survey conducted in December 2006 in China’s Yangtze River found no trace of these animals. A few baiji may still exist in their native Yangtze habitat in eastern China but not in sufficient numbers to breed and ward off extinction. If confirmed, this will be the first and only modern cetacean species (and family) to disappear due to human impact.
Family Iniidae
Inia geoffrensis boto inia
Family Monodontidae
Delphinapterus leucas white whale beluga
Monodon monoceros narwhal narvalo
Family Phocoenidae
Phocoena phocoena harbour porpoise focena comune
Phocoena spinipinnis Burmeister’s porpoise focena spinipinne
Phocoena sinus vaquita focena del Golfo di California
Phocoena dioptrica spectacled porpoise focena dagli occhiali
Neophocaena phocaenoides finless porpoise neofocena
Phocoenoides dalli Dall’s porpoise focenoide
Family Delphinidae
Steno bredanensis rough-toothed dolphin steno
Sousa chinensis Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin susa indopacifica
Sousa teuszii Atlantic humpback dolphin susa atlantica
Sotalia fluviatilis tucuxi sotalia
Lagenorhynchus albirostris white-beaked dolphin lagenorinco rostrobianco
Lagenorhynchus acutus Atlantic white-sided dolphin lagenorinco acuto
Lagenorhynchus obscurus dusky dolphin lagenorinco scuro
Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Pacific white-sided dolphin lagenorinco dai denti obliqui
Lagenorhynchus cruciger hourglass dolphin lagenorinco dalla croce
Lagenorhynchus australis Peale’s dolphin lagenorinco australe
Grampus griseus Risso’s dolphin grampo
Tursiops truncatus common bottlenose dolphin tursiope
Tursiops aduncus Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin tursiope indo-pacifico NEW
Stenella frontalis Atlantic spotted dolphin stenella maculata atlantica
Stenella attenuata pantropical spotted dolphin stenella maculata pantropicale
Stenella longirostris spinner dolphin stenella dal lungo rostro
Stenella clymene clymene dolphin stenella climene
Stenella coeruleoalba striped dolphin stenella striata
Delphinus delphis short-beaked common dolphin delfino comune
Delphinus capensis long-beaked common dolphin delfino comune dal lungo rostroNEW
Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser’s dolphin lagenodelfino
Lissodelphis borealis northern right whale dolphin lissodelfino boreale
Lissodelphis peronii southern right whale dolphin lissodelfino australe
Cephalorhynchus commersonii Commerson’s dolphin cefalorinco di Commerson
Cephalorhynchus eutropia Chilean dolphin cefalorinco eutropia
Cephalorhynchus heavisidii Heaviside’s dolphin cefalorinco di Heaviside
Cephalorhynchus hectori Hector’s dolphin cefalorinco di Hector
Peponocephala electra melon-headed whale peponocefalo
Feresa attenuata pygmy killer whale feresa
Pseudorca crassidens false killer whale pseudorca
Orcinus orca killer whale orca
Globicephala melas long-finned pilot whale globicefalo
Globicephala macrorhynchus short-finned pilot whale globicefalo di Gray
Orcaella heinsohni Australian snubfin dolphin orcella australiana NEW
Orcaella brevirostris Irrawaddy dolphin orcella asiatica NEW
Family Ziphiidae
Tasmacetus shepherdi Shepherd’s beaked whale tasmaceto
Berardius bairdii Baird’s beaked whale berardio boreale
Berardius arnuxii Arnoux’s beaked whale berardio australe
Mesoplodon pacificus Longman’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di Longman
Mesoplodon bidens Sowerby’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di Sowerby
Mesoplodon densirostris Blainville’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di De Blainville
Mesoplodon europaeus Gervais’ beaked whale mesoplodonte di Gervais
Mesoplodon layardii strap-toothed whale mesoplodonte di Layard
Mesoplodon hectori Hector’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di Hector
Mesoplodon grayi Gray’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di Gray
Mesoplodon stejnegeri Stejneger’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di Stejneger
Mesoplodon bowdoini Andrews’ beaked whale mesoplodonte di Bowdoin
Mesoplodon mirus True’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di True
Mesoplodon gingkodens ginkgo-toothed beaked whale mesoplodonte di Nishiwaki
Mesoplodon carlhubbsi Hubbs’ beaked whale mesoplodonte di Hubbs
Mesoplodon peruvianus pygmy beaked whale mesoplodonte pigmeo NEW
Mesoplodon traversii spade-toothed whale mesoplodonte di Travers NEW
Mesoplodon perrini Perrin’s beaked whale mesoplodonte di Perrin NEW
Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier’s beaked whale zifio
Hyperoodon ampullatus northern bottlenose whale iperodonte boreale
Hyperoodon planifrons southern bottlenose whale iperodonte australe