All marine mammals in the United States are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act , and some are also listed as threatened (T) or endangered (E) under the Endangered Species Act. Great whales are protected by the International Whaling Commission (*), and all whales and some dolphins and seals are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. For more information, visit the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources website at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species.
- Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncates)
- Pacific White-sided Dolphin
- Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphin (Stenella
- Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus
- Rough Toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis)
- Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris)
- Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)
- Blainville’s Beaked Whale
- Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
- Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera
- Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius
- Dwarf Sperm Whale (Kogia simus)
- False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens)
- Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
- Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
- Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)
- Melon-Headed Whale (Peponocephala
- North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena
japonica) (E) (*)
- Pygmy Killer Whale (Feresa
- Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia
- Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis)
- Short-Finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala
- Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)
- Blainville’s Beaked Whale
Widely distributed worldwide in tropical and warm-temperate waters.
Primarily coastal but populations in offshore waters. Common throughout
Hawaiian Archipelago. Data suggest Hawaii stock separate from
eastern tropical Pacific stock. Status of Hawaii stock unknown.
Found throughout the temperate North Pacific. Two stocks recognized
but structure poorly defined. Status of Central North Pacific
Pan-tropical distribution in coastal and oceanic waters. Common
in Hawaii especially on lee sides of islands and inter-island
channels. Common in American Samoa. Stock around Hawaii distinct
from eastern tropical Pacific stock. Status of Hawaii stock unknown.
Found in tropical to warm-temperate waters worldwide. Rare in
waters around Hawaii. Four reported strandings in main Hawaiian
Islands. Sightings near Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. North
Pacific stock structure unknown.
Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate oceanic waters.
Sightings northeast off Northern Mariana Islands in winter and
off main Hawaiian Islands and as far north as French Frigate Shoals
in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. North Pacific stock structure
Most common dolphin around oceanic islands in Pacific and pelagic
areas far from land. Common around American Samoa. Suggestion
of a large, relatively stable resident population around the island
of Hawaii. Population status unknown.
Found in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide. Several
sightings north and west of Northern Mariana Islands in winter.
In Hawaii, 13 reported strandings between 1936 and 1996, but only
2 at-sea sightings. Population size for Hawaii Archipelago EEZ
estimated at 10,385.
One of the most endangered marine mammals in the United States,
and only endangered marine mammal existing wholly within U.S.
jurisdiction. Endemic to Hawaiian Archipelago and Johnston Atoll.
Non-migratory, but home ranges may be extensive. Six main reproductive
sites in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Kure Atoll, Midway
Island, Pearl and Hermes Reef, Lisianski Island, Laysan Island
and French Frigate Shoals). Smaller populations at Necker Island
(Mokumanamana) and Nihoa Island. 52 individuals in main Hawaiian
Islands. Population size for Hawaii Archipelago EEZ estimated
Range from southern California north to the Bering Sea and west
to Okhotsk Sea and Honshu Island, Japan. Commonly migrates into
the northeastern portion of the historic Hawaii-based fishing
zone, at any time of the year. Juvenile fur seals primarily found
during fall, early winter and early summer. Two stocks recognized
in U.S. waters. Eastern stock estimated population size 888,120.
San Miguel Island stock estimated 7,784.
Breed and birth in California and Baja California. Males feed
near the eastern Aleutian Islands and in the Gulf of Mexico. Females
feed further south, south of 45 deg N. Commonly migrates into
the northeastern portion of the historic Hawaii-based fishing
zone, at any time of the year. Adult females migrate into the
area twice a year, returning briefly to land to breed in winter
and molt in spring. California stock estimated at 101,000.
Cosmopolitan distribution in tropical and temperate waters. Three
stocks found in Pacific U.S. EEZ: M. densirostris (Hawaiian waters),
M. stefinergeri (Alaskan waters) and Mesolplodon sp. (off California,
Oregon and Washington). 16 sightings in main Hawaiian Islands.
Strandings in main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Estimated
size of Hawaii stock 2,138.
Found in all oceans worldwide. Separated into North Atlantic,
North Pacific, and Southern Hemisphere populations. For management
purposes, blue whales in U.S. Pacific waters divided into eastern
North Pacific and Hawaii stocks. No data available to estimate
size of Hawaii stock.
Found worldwide. Common in much of the tropical Pacific. Two
stocks (Hawaii and eastern tropical Pacific) found within U.S.
EEZ in the Pacific. One sighting southeast of Nihoa in the Northwestern
Hawaiian Islands. Estimated abundance of Hawaii stock 493.
Occurs in all oceans and major seas. Within the U.S. Pacific
EEZ, species divided into Hawaii, Alaska and California-Oregon-Washington
stocks. 5 stranding reported in Hawaii Archipelago, including
Midway islands, Peral and Hermes Reef, Oahu and Hawaii. Sightings
reported off Lanai, Maui, Hawaii, Nihau and Kauai. Estimated size
Hawaii stock 12,278.
Found worldwide in tropical to warm-temperate waters. Rarely
observed at sea. Species in Pacific U.S. EEZ divided into Hawaii
and California-Oregon-Washington stocks. 4 strandings reported
in Hawaii. 5 sightings made during shipboard survey. Estimated
Hawaii stock 19,172.
Found in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate seas worldwide.
In North Pacific, well known from southern Japan, Hawaii and eastern
tropical Pacific. Hawaii stock reproductively isolated from eastern
tropical Pacific stock. Found around main Hawaiian Islands. Offshore
range of Hawaii population unknown. Specimens found near Palmyra
Island may be from different stock. Unconfirmed sightings near
Johnston Atoll. Total population in U.S. Pacific EEZ estimated
42 to 1,160.
Found in all oceans of the world. Hawaii, California-Oregon-Washington
and Alaska stocks recognized in U.S. EEZ in North Pacific. Considered
rare in Hawaii waters. Sightings reported from Oahu and Kauai.
5 sightings during survey of EEZ around Hawaii. Single stranding
reported on Maui. Estimated Hawaii stock size 174.
Found in all ocean basins worldwide. Three recognized stocks
(based on geographically distinct winter ranges) in the U.S. Pacific:
eastern North Pacific stock (previously known as the California-Oregon-Washington
stock), central North Pacific stock and western North Pacific
stock. Estimated 6,010 animals in entire North Pacific. Estimated
4,000 whales in central North Pacific stock, inhabiting Hawaii
(including waters off all eight main Hawaiian Islands) during
winter months to breed and calve and Southeast Alaska and Prince
William Sound during spring, summer and fall to feed.
Found in all oceans and seas worldwide. Prefer colder waters.
Large concentrations sighted north of Northern Mariana Islands
and near Samoa. Rare in Hawaii waters. One reported sighting off
Waianae coast of Oahu and another near Kauai. Four North Pacific
stocks and a Hawaii stock recognized in Pacific U.S. EEZ. Estimated
size Hawaii stock 430.
Found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. Large herds
regularly seen in Hawaii waters, especially of Waianae Coast of
Oahu, north Kohala coast of Hawaii and leeward coast of Lanai.
One sighting from shipboard survey of EEZ surrounding Hawaii.
14 strandings from Hawaii. Strandings reported on Guam. Only Hawaii
stock recognized in U.S. Pacific EEZ, with population estimate
Rarest of all large whale species and among the rarest of all
marine mammal species. Extremely endangered. Once ranged across
entire North Pacific north of 35 deg N and occasionally as far
south as 20 deg N. Heavily exploited by commercial whalers. Pre-exploitation
stock size exceeded 11,000. Current estimated population 100-200.
Found in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. Observed
off the lee shore of Oahu. Six documented strandings on Maui and
island of Hawaii. Hawaii stock only stock recognized in U.S. Pacific
EEZ. Estimated Hawaii stock size 817.
Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate waters. Hawaii
and California-Oregon-Washington stocks recognized in Pacific
U.S. EEZ. 22 strandings reported in Hawaii Archipelago between
1949 and 2002. 2 sightings made in 2002 shipboard survey, and
one reported sighting each from Niiahu and off island of Hawaii.
Estimated size Hawaii stock 7,251.
Found in temperate regions worldwide but not associated with
coastal features. Hawaii, California-Oregon-Washington and Alaska
stocks recognized in Pacific U.S. EEZ. Four sightings made during
summer-fall 2002 during shipboard survey of U.S. EEZ around Hawaii.
Estimated size Hawaii stock 77.
Found in tropical and warm temperate oceanic waters worldwide.
Hawaii and California-Oregon-Washington stock recognized in Pacific
U.S. EEZ. Frequently observed around Guam. Commonly observed around
main Hawaiian Islands. 25 sightings from 2002 shipboard survey.
14 stranding in main Hawaiian Islands, including five mass strandings.
Also found near Palmyra Island. Possibly separate stock. Estimated
size Hawaii stock 8,846. Estimated size Palmyra stock 877-8,229.
Widely distributed across entire North Pacific. Hawaii former
center of major 19th-century whaling ground for sperm whales.
Since 1936, 18 strandings reported from Oahu, Kauai and Kure Atoll.
Sightings in Northwestern Hawaiian islands, island of Hawaii,
and in Kauai and Alenuihaha channels. 43 sightings in 2002 shipboard
survey in EEZ around Hawaii. California-Oregon-Washington, North
Pacific (Alaska), Hawaii, Northern Gulf of Mexico stocks recognized
in Pacific U.S. EEZ. Estimated Hawaii stock size 7,082.