Indopacetus pacificus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Ziphiidae

Scientific Name: Indopacetus pacificus (Longman, 1926)
Common Name(s):
English Indo-pacific Beaked Whale, Longman's Beaked Whale, Tropical Bottlenose Whale
French Baleine A Bec De Longman
Spanish Zifio De Longman
Mesoplodon pacificus (Longman, 1926)
Mesoplodon pacificus Longman, 1926
Taxonomic Notes: Some marine mammal scientists believe this species should be in the genus Mesoplodon. In 1996, it was listed under Mesoplodon, but it is now generally considered under Indopacetus (Rice 1998). Until just a few years ago, this species was only known only from two skulls. Sightings of what are now known to be this species in tropical waters were often mistakenly attributed to a whale of the genus Hyperoodon (Dalebout et al. 2003).

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 almost 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 not be ruled out.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:There have been many sightings at widespread locations in the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans (Dalebout et al. 2003). The distribution is not fully known, but it appears to be limited to the Indo-Pacific region (Culik 2004). The collected specimens are from Australia, Somalia, South Africa, the Maldives, Kenya, the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. These beaked whales are relatively infrequently seen in the eastern tropical Pacific and may be more common in the western Pacific. They also appear to be more common in the western Indian Ocean, especially around the Maldives archipelago (Anderson et al. 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Australia; Comoros; Japan; Kenya; Malaysia; Maldives; Mayotte; Mexico; New Caledonia; Philippines; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; United States (Hawaiian Is.)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:While it is certainly not the rarest of beaked whales, the paucity of recent sightings of Longman’s beaked whales indicate that it is not particularly common either. The only estimates of abundance available are of 1,007 individuals (CV=126%) in the waters around Hawaii (Barlow 2006), and 291 (CV=100%) in the eastern North Pacific (Ferguson and Barlow 2001).

There is no information on trends in the global abundance of this species.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The sightings of this species come from scattered locations, many in deep, oceanic waters, in the tropical to subtropical Indo-Pacific. Sightings have occurred in areas with surface water temperatures of 21-31°C.

Nothing is known of its feeding habits, except for the stomach contents of a single specimen from Japan (Yamada 2003). These suggested that the species feeds primarily on cephalopods, like other beaked whales.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Direct hunting has never been associated with this species. Pervasive gillnet and longline fisheries throughout the species' range raises concern that some bycatch is likely. Even low levels of bycatch might cause unsustainable impacts on this naturally rare cetacean.

It is unknown if military, seismic or other loud noise-producing human activities resulted in the live stranding of a possible mother/calf pair in NE Taiwan (Wang and Yang 2006; Yang et al. 2008). However, “bubble-like lesions” were reported in at least one of these whales by Yang et al (2008). There is some evidence from Sri Lanka for occasional incidental or directed takes of animals identified as ‘bottlenose whales’ which are likely to be Indopacetus (Dayaratne and Joseph 1993).

Evidence from stranded individuals of several similar species of beaked whales 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.

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 in Appendix II of CITES. Research is needed to determine the impact of possible threats on this species.

Classifications [top]

10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
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
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

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ 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

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]

Anderson, R. C., Clark, R., Madsen, P. T., Johnson, C., Kiszka, J. and Breysse, O. 2006. Observations of Longman's beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus) in the Western Indian Ocean. Aquatic Mammals 32(2): 223-231.

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.

Barlow, J. 1999. Trackline detection probability for long-diving whales. In: G. W. Garner, S. C. Amstrup, J. L. Laake, B. J. F. Manley, L. L. McDonald and D. G. Robertson (eds), Marine mammal survey and assessment methods, pp. 209-221. Balkema Press, Netherlands.

Barlow, J. 2006. Cetacean abundance in Hawaiian waters estimated from a summer/fall survey in 2002. Marine Mammal Science 22(2): 446-464.

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.

Culik, B. M. 2004. Review of small cetaceans: Distribution, behaviour, migration and threats. Marine Mammal Action Plan/Regional Seas Reports and Studies 177: 343 pp.

Dalebout, M. L., Ross, G. J. B., Baker, C. S., Anderson, R. C., Best, P. B., Cockcroft, V. G., Hinsz, H. L., Peddemors, V. M. and Pitman, R. L. 2003. Appearance, distribution and genetic distinctiveness of Longman's beaked whale, Indopacetus pacificus. Marine Mammal Science 19(3): 421-461.

Dayaratne, P. and Joseph, L. 1993. A study on dolphin catches in Sri Lanka. Bay of Bengal Programme, Madras, India.

Ferguson, M. C. and Barlow, J. 2001. Spatial distribution and density of cetaceans in the eastern Pacific Ocean based on summer/fall research vessel surveys in 1986-96. Southwest Fisheries Science Center Adminstrative Report LJ-01-04: 61 pp.

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.

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.

Rice, D.W. 1998. Marine Mammals of the World: Systematics and Distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy, Lawrence, Kansas.

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.

Yamada, T. 2003. On an unidentified beaked whale found stranded in Kagoshima. Available at: http//

Yang, W.-C., Chou, L.-S., Jepson, P. D., Brownell Jr., R. L., Cowan, D., Chang, P.-H., Chiou, H.-I., Yao, C.-J., Yamada, T. K., Chiu, J.-T., Wang, P.-J. and Fernandez, A. 2008. Unusual cetacean mortality events in Taiwan, possibly linked to naval activities. Veterinary Record 162: 184-186.

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. Indopacetus pacificus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T40635A10345818. . Downloaded on 21 September 2017.
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