TAXONOMY OF CETACEANS
(whales, dolphins and porpoises)

In biology, taxonomy is the science of naming and hierarchically grouping organisms according to their proven or presumed relationships. The system was developed by the Swedish scientist Linnaeus in the 18th century, and is based on two main features:
  1. Binomial nomenclature
    Any organism's scientific name is a combination of two terms - the genus and the species. Both terms are italicised and the genus name is also capitalised (e.g. Orcinus orca).
  2. Classification categories
    Species are ordered hierarchically into a series of categories and subcategories, which become more and more specific as the species level is approached.
The 7 major categories are:
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species
Whales, dolphins and porpoises, collectively called cetaceans, belong to the order Cetacea.
For cetaceans, an extra category called suborder (placed between order and family) comes into play, so that a distinction can be made between toothed and baleen species - i.e. Odontoceti and Mysticeti.
A third suborder called Archaeoceti comprises a group of extinct animals, which is not included in our Taxonomy Browser below.

Taxonomy Browser

Order: Cetacea
Number of extant suborders: 2
Number of families: 14
Number of genera: 39
Number of species: 87
Number of toothed cetaceans (odontocetes): 72
Number of toothless cetaceans (mysticetes): 15

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Live Updates

by CW Azores

  • Welcome to the CW Azores Live dashboard!
  • Here you will see real-time whale and dolphin 🐳🐬 sighting updates from our boats, along with other interesting insights 😉
  • Using environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor biodiversity in the North-East Atlantic and Mediterranean. CW Azores is an official partner of the project. Learn more...
  • LIVE TOUR
    Our boat Kometa left port at 2024-7-19 1:33 PM (UTC Time) for a Whale Watching tour.
    Species seen so far:
    Fin whale
    Atlantic spotted dolphin
    Common bottlenose dolphin
    Sei whale
    The Live button will pulse each time a new sighting is recorded by our crew.
  • LIVE TOUR
    Our boat BWA left port at 2024-7-19 1:56 PM (UTC Time) for a Swim with Dolphins tour.
    Species seen so far:
    Atlantic spotted dolphin
    Common bottlenose dolphin
    The Live button will pulse each time a new sighting is recorded by our crew.