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Lagenorhynchus albirostris

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA DELPHINIDAE

Scientific Name: Lagenorhynchus albirostris
Species Authority: (Gray, 1846)
Common Name(s):
English White-beaked Dolphin
French Lagénorhynque À Bec Blanc De L'Atlantique, Dauphin À Bec Blanc
Spanish Delfín De Pico Blanco, Delfín De Pico Blanco
Taxonomic Notes: Recent genetic studies suggest that this species is not closely-related to any of the others currently placed in the genus Lagenorhynchus. It is likely that future work will split-out the other species, leaving this one as the only member of the genus Lagenorhynchus (LeDuc et al. 1999, Harlin-Cognato and Honeycutt 2006). Morphological differences have been found between White-beaked Dolphins from the eastern and western Atlantic (Mikkelsen and Lund 1994).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2008-07-01
Assessor(s): Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K.A., Karkzmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y. , Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B.
Reviewer(s): Rojas-Bracho, L. & Smith, B.D.
Justification:
The species is widespread and abundant (with current population estimates exceeding 100,000) and there have been no reported population declines or major threats identified.
History:
1994 Insufficiently Known (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This is the most northerly member of the genus Lagenorhynchus, and it has a wide distribution (Kinze 2002). White-beaked Dolphins inhabit cold temperate to subpolar waters of the North Atlantic, from Cape Cod and France, north to central Davis Strait, southern Greenland, Svalbard, and east to Novaya Zemlya. The range includes Iceland, Faroe Islands, the U.K., and most Scandinavian waters. There are a few extralimital records in the Baltica Sea.

The map shows where the species may occur based on oceanography. The species has not been recorded for all the states within the hypothetical range as shown on the map. States for which confirmed records of the species exist are included in the list of native range states. States within the hypothetical range but for which no confirmed records exist are included in the Presence Uncertain list.
Countries:
Native:
Belgium; Canada; Denmark; Faroe Islands; France; Germany; Greenland; Guernsey; Iceland; Ireland; Isle of Man; Jersey; Netherlands; Norway; Russian Federation; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States
Vagrant:
Estonia; Finland; Latvia; Lithuania; Poland
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – northwest
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are few actual estimates of abundance, but there may be a hundred thousand or more throughout their range (Øien 1996, Reeves et al. 1999).

Published estimates indicate there are at least several thousand White-beaked Dolphins in portions of the north-western Atlantic, shoreward of the 200-m contour between St. Anthony, Newfoundland, and Nain, Labrador (Alling and Whitehead 1987) and in coastal and offshore waters east of Newfoundland and south-east of Labrador. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, white-beaked dolphins (2,500 in 1995 and 1996) occurred only in the Strait of Belle Isle and the extreme north-eastern Gulf (Kingsley and Reeves 1998).

At least a few thousand white-beaked dolphins inhabit Icelandic waters and up to 100,000 the northeastern Atlantic including the Barents Sea, the eastern part of the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea north of 56°N (Øien 1996). A survey of the North Sea and adjacent waters in 1994 provided an estimate of 7,856 (CV=0.30) white-beaked dolphins (Hammond et al. 2002). In 2005 there were an estimated 22,700 (CV=0.42) in the European Atlantic continental shelf waters, including 10,600 (CV=0.29) in the same area surveyed in 1994. Kinze et al. (1997) maintained that the White-beaked Dolphin is much more common in the North and Baltic Seas than its relative, the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, and Northridge et al. (1997) found that White-beaked Dolphins are relatively common in European waters compared with White-sided Dolphins, or compared with US waters. A 2006 survey in an area from the Georges Bank to the upper Bay of Fundy to the entrance of the Gulf of St. Lawrence estimated 2,003 animals (CV=0.94) (Waring et al. 2008).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: White-beaked Dolphins inhabit continental shelf and offshore waters of the cold temperate to subpolar zones, although there is evidence suggesting that their primary habitat is in waters less than 200 m deep. The species is found widely over the continental shelf, but especially along the shelf edge. A change in habitat use has been documented in U.S. waters, where White-beaked Dolphins were observed primarily on the continental shelf prior to the 1970s, but mainly occurred over slope waters during the 1970s. This shift was associated with changes in finfish abundance and a shift in the distribution of Atlantic White-sided Dolphins, L. acutus (Katona et al. 1993, Kenney et al. 1996).

The ecology of White-beaked Dolphins has received little detailed study (Kinze 2002). They feed on variety of small pelagic schooling fishes but also demersal species (such as cod, haddock, poorcod, bib, hake, and whiting), squid, and crustaceans (Reeves et al. 1999). They sometimes associate, while feeding, with large whales (such as Fin and Humpback Whales), and are known to form mixed groups with a number of other dolphin species (including Bottlenose and Atlantic White-sided Dolphins) (Reeves et al. 1999).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Small-scale hunting takes place in a few countries.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Although not a target of any large commercial fisheries, there has been a long history of small-scale hunting for white-beaked dolphins in some countries, such as Norway, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Labrador, mostly for food (Reeves et al. 1999); hunting in some areas continues today (Jefferson et al. 1993), e.g. some hunting continues off the south-west coast of Greenland (Kinze 2002) and opportunistically off the coast of Canada (Lien et al. 2001). During the early 1980s an estimated 366 White-beaked Dolphins were taken annually by the residents of 12 Labrador harbours (Alling and Whitehead 1987).

White-beaked Dolphins are known to be taken incidentally in a range of fishing gear throughout the range of the species (Dong et al. 1996, Reeves et al. 1999). In Norwegian waters where the species is abundant and fishery effort is high, bycatches of white-beaked dolphins are too rare to be detected in fishery operations monitored for marine mammal bycatches (A. Bjørge pers. comm.). In the UK bycatch observer programme, no White-beaked Dolphins have been recorded (S. Northridge pers. comm.). Thus, recent bycatch monitoring programmers support the conclusion of Jefferson et al. (1993) that although known to be occurring, incidental catches are not thought to be high enough to represent a serious threat to this species.

Like other North Atlantic marine mammals, White-beaked Dolphins are contaminated by organochlorines, other anthropogenic compounds and heavy metals (Reeves et al. 1999); although the effects of pollutants are not well understood in this species, they may affect reproduction or render them susceptible to other mortality factors.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

Existing direct takes are currently not regulated by any hunting quotas. Although known to occur, bycatch rates seem to be poorly documented and warrant more intensive research. The impact of combined anthropogenic removals should be assessed.

Citation: Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K.A., Karkzmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y. , Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B. 2012. Lagenorhynchus albirostris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 August 2014.
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