Whales species list

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Whales are from the order Cetacea, which also includes the dolphins and porpoises. The order contains two sub-orders, Mysticeti and Odontoceti, over which the whale species are spread. New discoveries of species has increased recently although due to the nature of whales studying them prevents easily relating the species to another, this has led to several publications stating different facts.



Baleen whales

Baleen whale anatomy.png
The physical features of the baleen whales, in this case a Humpback whale.
Humpback whale
Humpback whale

The baleen whales form the Mysticeti, one of two suborders of the Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises). Baleen whales are characterized by having baleen plates for filtering food from water, rather than having teeth. Living Mysticeti species have teeth only during the embryonal phase. Fossil Mysticeti had teeth before baleen evolved. In baleen whales, unlike with most other marine mammals, the female is larger than the male, and the largest animal ever to have lived is found in this group.

The suborder contains four families and fourteen fully known species. Balaenoptera omurai is a recent discovery and little is known of it, no common name has been assigned to it yet.

The scientific name derives from the Greek word mystax, which means "moustache".


Toothed whales

The physical features of the toothed whales, in this case a bottlenose dolphin.
The physical features of the toothed whales, in this case a bottlenose dolphin.
Sperm whale
Sperm whale

The toothed whales form the Odontoceti, the second sub-order of the cetaceans. As the name suggests, the suborder is characterized by having teeth, rather than baleen. Toothed whales are active hunters, feeding on fish, squid, and in some cases marine mammals. As well as the following whales, the sub-order also contains the porpoises and dolphins. Toothed whales have a single blowhole on the top of the head, which was formed from one of the nostrils becoming dominant over the other, rather than from them both fusing together.

  • Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus
  • Dwarf Sperm Whale, Kogia sima
  • Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps
  • Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris
  • Arnoux's Beaked Whale, Berardius arnuxii
  • Baird's Beaked Whale (North Pacific Bottlenose Whale), Berardius bairdii
  • Shepherd's Beaked Whale (Tasman Beaked Whale), Tasmacetus shepherdi
  • Longman's Beaked Whale (Indo-Pacific Beaked Whale), Indopacetus pacificus
  • Northern Bottlenose Whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus
  • Southern Bottlenose Whale, Hyperoodon planifrons
  • Hector's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon hectori
  • True's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon mirus
  • Gervais' Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon europaeus
  • Sowerby's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens
  • Gray's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon grayi
  • Pygmy Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon peruvianus
  • Andrews' Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bowdoini
  • Bahamonde's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bahamondi
  • Hubbs' Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon carlhubbsi
  • Ginkgo-toothed Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon ginkgodens
  • Stejneger's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon stejnegeri
  • Layard's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon layardii
  • Blainville's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon densirostris
  • Perrin's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon perrini
  • Narwhal, Monodon monoceros
  • Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas


Extinct whales

Another group of whales was the Archaeoceti, which is now extinct, these were believed to be some of the earliest whales which gave rise to modern whales. Mainly only genera are known and no specific species. Not all extinct whales are from the Archaeoceti group.

  • Pakicetus
  • Ambulocetus
  • Basilosaurus
  • Squalodon
  • Mammalodon colliveri
  • Janjucetus hunderi - thought to have been an early baleen whale, with remnants of teeth
  • Harrison's Whale, Eobalaenoptera harrisoni - fossil species first discovered June 2004


Unconfirmed species

These unconfirmed species of whales can also be considered cryptids.

  • Giglioli's Whale
  • High-finned sperm whale
  • Bloop (an underwater sound detected by the NOAA, possibly from a whale)


See also

  • Cetacea
  • Mysticeti
  • Odontoceti
  • List of dolphin species
  • List of porpoise species
  • List of whale songs
  • List of cetaceans



  • Rice, Dale W. (1998). "Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution": 231pp. 
  • Mead, James G. and Robert L. Brownell, Jr (November 16, 2005). in Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds): Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition, Johns Hopkins University Press, 723-743. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 


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