Tasmacetus shepherdi 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Ziphiidae

Scientific Name: Tasmacetus shepherdi Oliver, 1937
Common Name(s):
English Shepherd's Beaked Whale, Tasman Beaked Whale, Tasman Whale
French Tasmacète
Spanish Ballena Picuda De Shepherd

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman, R.L.
Reviewer(s): Hammond, P.S. & Perrin, W.F. (Cetacean Red List Authority)
There is no information on abundance and no information on trends in global abundance for this species. As a relatively uncommon species it is potentially vulnerable to low-level threats and a 30% global reduction over three generations cannot be ruled out (criterion A).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Shepherd's beaked whales are primarily known from a few dozen strandings, all south of 30°S, around New Zealand, southern Australia, southern South America, the Juan Fernandez Islands, and Tristan de Cunha (Mead 1989). There have been only a few sightings reported in the literature and the validity of most of those is suspect (or clearly erroneous. The confirmed sightings have been from south of Tasmania and in oceanic waters of the South Atlantic (Pitman et al. 2006). The majority of strandings have occurred in New Zealand. It is presumed that they have a circumpolar distribution in cold temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere (MacLeod et al. 2006). It is possible that the species may be somewhat more widespread than the records suggest, since it was not likely to be accurately identified at sea until its recent re-description (Pitman et al. 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Australia; Chile (Juan Fernández Is.); New Zealand (Chatham Is., North Is., South Is.); Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (Tristan da Cunha); South Africa
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southwest; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – southeast; Pacific – southwest
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Shepherd’s beaked whale appears to be relatively rare, but there are no estimates of abundance available. The external appearance of the species was not well-known until it was re-described from several fresh specimens and at-sea sightings; this could lead to further refinement about its distribution and abundance (Pitman et al. 2006). Nothing is known about subpopulation structure.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species generally lives mainly far offshore, well away from coasts; however, where there is a narrow continental shelf, T. shepherdi may sometimes occur in deep water close to shore.

Shepherd’s beaked whales are known to feed on several species of fish (primarily eelpouts), as well as squid and crabs, possibly near the bottom in deep waters. This seems somewhat unusual, as most beaked whales appear to feed almost exclusively on cephalopods.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No major threats are known for this species. As is true for most of the beaked whales, this species has never been hunted and fisheries interactions are not known.

Evidence from stranded individuals of Tasmacetus shepherdi indicated that they had swallowed discarded plastic items (reference?), which may eventually lead to death (e.g. Scott et al. 2001).

This species, like other beaked whales, is likely to be vulnerable to loud anthropogenic sounds, such as those generated by navy sonar and seismic exploration (Cox et al. 2006).

Predicted impacts of global climate change on the marine environment may affect this species of whale, although the nature of impacts is unclear (Learmonth et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is listed on Appendix II of CITES. Research is needed to assess the impacts of potential threats on this species.

Citation: Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman, R.L. 2008. Tasmacetus shepherdi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T21500A9291409. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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