From: Howard Garrett (
Date: Tue May 22 2001 - 22:03:54 EDT

How many whale species are there? Name your favorite(s), please.I'm just
curious. Thank you for your time,

        It would be simpler if there were absolute certainty about how many
cetacean species there are, but there are various answers to that question,
because as we learn more about particular populations of cetaceans we are
beginning to see distinctions between populations that were not apparent
before. There are "inshore" and "pelagic" populations of bottlenose
dolphins, for instance, so are they different species? And should
"transient" orcas be considered the same species as "resident" orcas? Some
writers tend to be "lumpers" who prefer to combine populations that exhibit
small variations into single species, while other writers are "splitters"
who believe if there is any significant difference between populations they
should be considered separate species. Estimates usually range from 75
species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, to the mid to high 80's.

        My favorites are orcas and humpbacks, but each species (or sub-species) is
pretty fascinating in their own right.

Howard Garrett
Orca Conservancy
2403 So. North Bluff Rd.
Greenbank WA 98253
(360) 678-3451

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