European Portal of National Heritage Organisations


Whales dolphins and porpoise are known as Cetacean. They are placed in order Cetacean from the Greek ‘Ketos’ and the latin ‘Cetus’ which means large marine creature, sea monster. They are very hard to study as they spend most of their time in under water. However our understanding in these fascinating animals has increased and they are now more respected than ever before.

Currently there are about 78 species of living cetacean. They are divided into two suborders, the baleen, Mysticeti and the toothed, Odontoceti whales. This depends mainly on their feeding apparatus.

Classification of Living Cetacea

Suborder: Mysticeti Baleen Whales

  • Family: Balaenidae Balaena-Bowhead Whale and Black Rigt Whale
  • Family: Balaenopteridae Balaenoptera-Minke (lesser Rorqual), Sei, Bryde’s, Blue and Fin Whales
  • Family Echrichtiidae Enschrichtius- Gray Whale
  • Family Neobalaenidae Caperea-Pygmy Right Whale

Suborder :Odontoceti Toothed Whales

Family:Delhinidae Cephalorhynchus-commerson’s, Chilean (Black), Heaviside’s and Hector’s Dolphins Delhinus-Common Dolphin Feresa-Pygmy Killer whale Gpobicephala-shorrt-finned and Long-finned Pilot Whales

Gampus-Risso’s Dolphin

Lagenodelphis-Fraser’s Dolphin

Lagenorhynchus-Atlantic White-sided, White-beaked, Peale’s, Hourglass, Pacific White-sited and Dusky Dolphins

Lissodelphin-Northern and Southern Right Whale Dolphins

Orcaella-Irrawaddy Dolphin

Orcinus-Killer Whale Orca

Peponocephala-Melon-headed Whale

Pseudorca-False Killer Whale


Sousa-Pacific, Indian Ocean and Atlantic Spotted and Spinner Dolphins

Steno-Rough-toothed Dolphin

Tursiops-Bottle-nosed Dolphin Family:Monodontidae


Monodon-Narwhal Family:Phoenidae

Australophocaena-Spectacted Porpoise

Neophocaena-Finless porpise

Pgocoena-Common (Harbour) Poroise, Vaquite, Burmeister’s Poroise

Phoenoides-Dall’sPoroise Family:Physeteridae

Kogia-Phygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales

Physeter-Sperm Whale Family:Plantanistidae

Inia-Amazon River Dolphin(Boto)

Lipotes-Yangtze River Dolphin (Baiji)

Plananista-Ganges and Indus River Dolphins

Pontoporia-La Plata Dolphin(Franciscana) Family:Ziphiidae

Berardius-Arnoux’s and Baird’s Beaked Whales

Hyperoodon-Norhern and Southern Bottlenose Whales

Mesoplodon-Sowerby’s, Andrew’s, Hubbs’,Blainville’s,gervais,Ginkgo-toothed,Gray’sHector’s, Strap-toothed, True’s, Pygmy, Stejneger’s and Longman’s Beaked Whales

Tasmacetus-Shepherd’s beaked Whale Ziphius-Cuvier’s Beaked Whale