List of Proposed, Un-named Marine Mammal Species and Subspecies

In 2019 the SMM Committee on Taxonomy removed all un-named taxa from the List of Marine Mammal Species and Subspecies to better reflect accepted taxonomy. There are cases where there may be evidence for taxonomically distinct taxa and recognition of a new, as yet un-named, taxon was proposed in the literature, but a formal, peer-reviewed study providing robust evidence that a subspecies or species criterion was met and the name was formally given is not yet available in the published, peer-reviewed literature. The Committee recommends authors always acquaint themselves with the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN 1999) and supply the information required under the Code when proposing new species or subspecies.

The subspecies removed from the 2019 list are provided below. There is still much work to be done with respect to the taxonomy of marine mammals.

Proposed un-named subspecies removed from the list [and the original reference]

Arctocephalus australis un-named subsp. Peruvian fur seal [Berta and Churchill 2012]

Balaenoptera acutorostrata un-named subsp. Dwarf minke whale [Rice 1998]

Balaenoptera musculus un-named subsp. Chilean blue whale. [Branch et al. 2007]

Globicephala melas un-named subsp. North Pacific long-finned pilot whale (extinct) [Rice 1998]

Lagenorhynchus obscurus un-named subsp. New Zealand dusky dolphin [Rice 1998]

Orcinus orca un-named subsp. ENP resident killer whale [Krahn et al. 2004]

Orcinus orca un-named subsp. ENP transient killer whale, Bigg’s killer whale [Krahn et al. 2004]

Phocoena phocoena un-named subsp. Western Pacific harbor porpoise [Rice 1998]

Phocoena phocoena un-named subsp. Afro-Iberian harbor porpoise. [Fontaine et al. 2014 who provided the name P. p. meridionalis, but a formal description that met the requirements of the ICZN was not provided]


Berta, A. and M. Churchill. 2012. Pinniped taxonomy: Review of currently recognized species and subspecies, and evidence used for their description. Mammal Review 42:207—234.

Branch, T. A., E. M. N. Abubaker, S. Mkango and D. S. Butterworth. 2007. Separating southern blue whale subspecies based on length frequencies of sexually mature females. Marine Mammal Science 23:803—833.

Fontaine, M. C., K. Roland, I. Calves, F. Austerlitz, F. P. Palstra, K. A. Tolley, S. Ryan, M. Ferreira, T. Jauniaux, A. Llavona and B. Öztürk. 2014. Postglacial climate changes and rise of three ecotypes of harbour porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, in western Palearctic waters. Molecular Ecology 23:3306—3321.

International Committee on Zoological Nomenclature [ICZN]. 1999. International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Fourth Edition. International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature c/o The Natural History Museum – Cromwell Road, London, United Kingdom.

Krahn, M., M. J. Ford, W. F. Perrin, P. R. Wade, R. P. Angliss, M. B. Hanson, B. L. Taylor, G. M. Ylitalo, M. E. Dahlheim, J. E. Stein and R. S. Waples. 2004 Status Review of Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NWFSC-62. 73pp.

Rice, D. W. 1998. Marine mammals of the world. Systematics and distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy Special Publication 4:1—231.