Lagenorhynchus australis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lagenorhynchus australis
Species Authority: (Peale, 1848)
Common Name(s):
English Peale's Dolphin, Blackchin Dolphin
French Dauphin De Peale, Lagénorhynque De Peale
Spanish Delfín Austral
Taxonomic Notes: The genus Lagenorhynchus is likely an artificial genus (LeDuc et al. 1999), and this species may eventually be included in the genus Sagmatias.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, 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. (Cetacean Red List Authority)
There is a lack of adequate information to make an assessment of extinction risk for this species (lack of a population estimate, and lack of an assessment of the impact of the use as crab-bait).
1996 Data Deficient
1994 Insufficiently Known (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Peale's dolphins are apparently confined to South America, from the southern tip to about the latitudes of Santiago, Chile (33°S), and northern Argentina (38°S) (Goodall et al. 1997a; Brownell et al. 1999; Goodall 2002). The distribution may extend south well into Drake Passage. They are regularly seen around the Falkland Islands.
Argentina; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southwest; Pacific – southeast
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: No information is available about the abundance of L. australis. However, this species is reportedly the most common cetacean found around the coast of the Falkland Islands and some parts of Chile (Goodall et al. 1997a; Brownell et al. 1999). The dolphins in Beagle Channel, the Magallanes, and southern Tierra del Fuego have been harpooned for crab bait since the 1970s. The scale of this killing was great enough to cause reduced abundance by the late 1980s (Lescrauwaet and Gibbons 1994).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Peale’s Dolphin occupies two major habitats: open, wave-washed coasts over shallow continental shelves to the north; and deep, protected bays and channels to the south and west. In the channels, this is an 'entrance animal', associated with the rocky coasts and riptides at the openings to fjords, where the highest water temperature recorded was 14.7°C. Peale's dolphins show a high degree of association with kelp beds (Macrocystis pyrifera), especially in the channel regions (Viddi and Lescrauwaet 2005). They swim and feed within, inshore and offshore of the kelp forests, using natural channels for movement. Over much of its range Peale's dolphin is sympatric with the dusky dolphin although their usages of habitats are slightly different. These two species are often difficult to differentiate at sea (Goodall et al. 1997b; de Haro and Iniguez 1997). Throughout the northern part of their range, they inhabit the waters of the wide continental shelf off Argentina and the narrower shelf off Chile. Although Peale's dolphins have been observed in waters at least 300 m deep, they appear to prefer shallower coastal waters (Brownell et al. 1999).

Very little is known about the biology of this species. Peale’s dolphins associate with other cetacean species, especially Commerson’s dolphins. Calves have been reported from spring through autumn. The few stomachs that have been examined contained mostly demersal fish, octopus, and squid species that occur in shallow waters and in kelp beds. Some shrimps have also been found in stomachs.
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for use as bait in crab fisheries.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There is considerable concern about numbers of Peale's Dolphins that are hunted with harpoons in the Strait of Magellan and around Tierra del Fuego, where the meat is used as bait in crab traps (Lescrauwaet and Gibbons 1994). Although direct hunting of dolphins has been prohibited in Chile since 1977, crab traps for centolla (southern king crab) Lithodes antarctica and centollon (false king crab) Paralomis granubosa, are still set with dolphin meat. Sielfeld et al. (1977) estimated some 2,350 dolphins, including both L. australis and Cephalorhynchus commersonii, were killed during the 1976/1977 crab-fishing season to bait crab traps used in the Strait of Magellan and the Chilean part of the Beagle Channel; this level of take across a number of years could have had a significant impact on the population. No recent estimates are available on the number of marine mammals killed for bait (Brownell et al. 1999; Lescrauwaet pers. comm.), but it is thought to be lower than in the past (Goodall 2002). Dolphin takes in the Argentinean sector stopped after the early 1980s (Goodall 2002).

Peale's dolphins are incidentally entangled and drowned in nets (Jefferson et al. 1993). There are reports from Queule and Mehuin (Chile), southern Patagonia, northeastern Tierra del Fuego and southern Santa Cruz (Argentina) that local fishermen may incidentally catch Peale's dolphins (Reyes 1991; Brownell et al. 1999). In the northern part of their Pacific range, however, Peale's dolphins seem to be rarely taken (Goodall 2002). Their close dependence on kelp forests may render them vulnerable to habitat loss (Viddi and Lescrauwaet 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is on Appendix II of CITES.

Recommended actions for conservation include cooperative research on biology and abundance, more comprehensive statistics on the use of Peale’s dolphin as bait and continued development of alternative sources of bait (the availability of legal bait has already diminished considerably the potential impact of crab-fisheries). Critical neritic habitat should be identified and protected for this species.

Bibliography [top]

Brownell Jr., R. L., Crespo, J. E. A. and Donahue, M. A. 1999. Peale's dolphin Lagenorhynchus australis (Peale, 1848). In: S. H. Ridgway and R. Harrison (eds), Handbook of marine mammals, Vol. 6: The second book of dolphins and the porpoises, pp. 105-120. Academic Press.

de Haro, J. C. and Iniguez, M. A. 1997. Ecology and behaviour of the Peale's dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis (Peale, 1848), at Cabo Virgenes (52 degree 30'S, 68 degree 28'W), in Patagonia, Argentina. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47: 723-728.

Goodall, R. N. P. 2002. Peale's dolphin Lagenorhynchus australis. In: W. F. Perrin, B. Wursig and J. G. M. Thewissen (eds), Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, pp. 890-894. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.

Goodall, R. N. P., De Haro,J. C., Iniguez, M. A. and Norris, K. S. 1997. Sightings and behavior of Peale's dolphins, Lagenorhynchus australis, with notes on dusky dolphins, L. obscurus, off southernmost South America. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47: 757-776.

Goodall, R. N. P., Norris, K. S., Schevill, W. E., Fraga, F., Praderi, R., Iniguez, M. A. and De Haro, J. C. 1997. Review and update on the biology of Peale's dolphins, Lagenorhynchus australis. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47: 777-796.

Jefferson, T. A., Leatherwood, S. and Webber, M. A. 1993. Marine Mammals of the World: FAO Species Identification Guide. United Nation Environment Programme and Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN.

Leduc, R. G., Perrin, W. F. and Dizon, A. E. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships among the delphinid cetaceans based on full cytochrome b sequences. Marine Mammal Science 15: 619-648.

Lescrauwaet, A. C. and Gibbons, J. 1994. Mortality of small cetaceans and the crab bait fishery in the Magellanes area of Chile since 1980. Reports of the International Whaling Commission Special Issue 15: 485-494.

Reyes, J. C. 1991. The conservation of small cetaceans: a review.

Sielfield, K. W., Venegas, C. and Atalah, A. 1977. Consideraciones acerca del estado de los mammiferos marinos en Chile. Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia (Chile) 9: 145-151.

Viddi, F. A. and Lescrauwaet, A. K. 2005. Insights on habitat selection and behavioral patterns of Peale's dolphins (Lagenorhynchus australis) in the Strait of Magellan, southern Chile. Aquatic Mammals 31(2): 176-183.

Citation: Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B. 2008. Lagenorhynchus australis. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 29 July 2014.
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