Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Ziphiidae

Scientific Name: Mesoplodon perrini
Species Authority: Dalebout, Mead, Baker, Baker & van Helden, 2002
Common Name(s):
English Perrin's Beaked Whale
French Mésoplodon De Perrin
Spanish Zifio De Perrin
Taxonomic Notes: Mesoplodon perrini was only described a few years ago, based on five animals stranded on the coast of California (between 33°55'N, 117°15'W and 36°37'N, 121°55'W) from May 1975 to September 1997 (Dalebout et al. 2002). Four of these animals were initially identified as Hector's Beaked Whales (M. hectori), based on cranial morphology (Mead 1981, Mead and Baker 1987, Mead 1989). A fifth specimen was initially identified as a neonate Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris), based on external features. Sightings of two small beaked whales off California in the 1970s which were tentatively identified as M. hectori (Mead 1981) are also likely to be M. perrini (Dalebout et al. 2002). Although similar morphologically, the genetic data do not support a close evolutionary relationship between M. perrini and M. hectori. Instead, these data suggest a possible sister-species relationship with the pygmy beaked whale M. peruvianus (Dalebout et al. 2002, Dalebout et al. 2004).

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 global abundance or trends in abundance for this species. It is likely uncommon and 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:
2003 Not Evaluated (NE)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:All five specimens so far examined have been from southern and central California (between 32° and 37°N), and it is likely that this species is endemic to the North Pacific Ocean (possibly even the eastern North Pacific) (Dalebout et al. 2002).
Countries occurrence:
United States (California)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – northeast
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No estimates of abundance exist, but the species does not appear to be common. There are only two possible sightings of live individuals.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Like other members of the genus, these species presumably prefers oceanic habitats with waters greater than 1,000 m deep, and the sightings thought to be of this species have occurred in deep waters.

Based on a limited sample of stomach contents, Perrin's beaked whale probably feeds mainly on squids (including Octopoteuthis sp.). The remains of an unidentified invertebrate have been found in the stomach of an animal stranded in California.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): All confirmed records have been of strandings (plus two possible sightings), so nothing is known of potential threats. Beaked whales of this genus have been taken occasionally by whalers but are not presently the main targets of any hunt. Entanglement in fishing gear, especially gillnets in deep water (e.g., for billfish and tuna), is probably the most significant threat.

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).

As a species with an apparently restricted distribution, Perrin’s beaked whale may be vulnerable to the effects of climate change as ocean warming may result in a shift or contraction of the species range as it tracks the occurrence of its preferred water temperatures (Learmonth et al. 2006). The effect of such changes in range size or position on this species is unknown.

Evidence from stranded individuals of several similar species indicates that they have swallowed discarded plastic items, which may eventually lead to death (e.g. Scott et al. 2001); this species may also be at risk.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES. Research is needed to determine the impacts of potential threatening processes on this species.

Classifications [top]

10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
suitability: Marginal  
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.2. Marine Oceanic - Mesopelagic (200-1000m)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.3. Marine Oceanic - Bathypelagic (1000-4000m)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.4. Garbage & solid waste
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.6. Excess energy -> 9.6.3. Noise pollution
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing: Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Balcomb, K. C. and Claridge, D. E. 2001. A mass stranding of cetaceans caused by naval sonar in the Bahamas. Bahamas Journal of Science 8(2): 2-12.

Cox, T. M., Ragen, T. J., Read, A. J., Vos, E., Baird, R. W., Balcomb, K., Barlow, J., Caldwell, J., Cranford, T., Crum, L., D'Amico, A., D'Spain, A., Fernández, J., Finneran, J., Gentry, R., Gerth, W., Gulland, F., Hildebrand, J., Houser, D., Hullar, T., Jepson, P. D., Ketten, D., Macleod, C. D., Miller, P., Moore, S., Mountain, D., Palka, D., Ponganis, P., Rommel, S., Rowles, T., Taylor, B., Tyack, P., Wartzok, D., Gisiner, R., Mead, J. and Benner, L. 2006. Understanding the impacts of anthropogenic sound on beaked whales. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 7(3): 177-187.

Dalebout, M. L., Baker, C. S., Mead, J. G., Cockcroft, V. G. and Yamada, T. 2004. A comprehensive and validated molecular taxonomy of beaked whales, Family Ziphiidae. Journal of Heredity 95: 459-473.

Dalebout, M. L., Mead, J. G., Baker, C. S., Baker, A. N. and van Helden, A. L. 2002. A new species of beaked whale Mesoplodon perrini sp. n. (Cetacea: Ziphiidae) discovered through phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Marine Mammal Science 18(3): 577-608.

Fernández, A., Edwards, J. F., Rodriguez, F., Espinosa, A., De Los Monteros, Herraez, P., Castro, P., Jaber, J. R., Martin, V. and Arebelo, M. 2005. "Gas and fat embolic syndrome" involving a mass stranding of beaked whales (family Ziphiidae) exposed to anthropogenic sonar signals. Veterinary Pathology 42: 446-457.

Gomercic, H., Gomercic, M. D., Gomericic, T., Lucic, H., Dalebout, M., Galov, A., Skrtic, D., Curkovic, S., Vukovic, S. and Huber, D. 2006. Biological aspects of Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) recorded in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea. European Journal of Wildlife Research 52(3): 182-187.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Jepson, P. D., Arebelo, M., Deaville, R., Patterson, I. A. P., Castro, P., Baker, J. R., Degollada, E., Ross, H. M., Herraez, P., Pocknell, A. M., Rodriguez, F., Howie, F. E., Espinosa, A., Reid, R. J., Jaber, J. R., Martin, V., Cunningham, A. A. and Fernandez, A. 2003. Gas-bubble lesions in stranded cetaceans. Nature 425: 575-576.

Learmonth, J.A., Macleod, C.D., Santos, M.B., Pierce, G.J., Crick, H.Q.P. and Robinson, R.A. 2006. Potential effects of climate change on marine mammals. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review 44: 431-464.

Malakoff, D. 2002. Suit ties whale deaths to research cruise. Science 298: 722-723.

Mead, J. G. 1981. First records of Mesoplodon hectori (Ziphiidae) from the northern hemisphere and a description of the adult male. Journal of Mammalogy 62: 430-432.

Mead, J. G. 1989. Beaked whales of the genus Mesoplodon. In: S. H. Ridgway and R. Harrison (eds), Handbook of marine mammals, Vol. 4: River dolphins and the larger toothed whales, pp. 349-430. Academic Press.

Mead, J. G. and Baker, A. N. 1987. Notes on the rare beaked whale, Mesoplodon hectori (Gray). Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 17: 303-312.

Scott, M. D., Hohn, A. A., Westgate, A. J., Nicolas, J. R., Whitaker, B. R. and Campbell, W. B. 2001. A note on the release and tracking of a rehabilitated pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps). Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 3(1): 87-94.

Wang, J. Y. and Yang, S. C. 2006. Unusual cetacean stranding events of Taiwan in 2004 and 2005. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 8: 283-292.

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. Mesoplodon perrini. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41759A10556788. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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