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The IWC was established in 1946 and has been working to increase knowledge and understanding of cetacean species for nearly seventy five years.  The Scientific Committee of the IWC is widely regarded as the pre-eminent global authority on cetaceans. 

For many years, the sole focus was the so-called ‘Great Whale’ species, some of which had been heavily depleted by commercial whaling.  The IWC has never regulated the hunting of small cetaceans - dolphins and porpoises - but more recently, the organisation has used its expertise to understand and address conservation concerns related to small cetaceans.  This is why some small cetacean species are included here, but many are not.

Building clear and definitive information about cetaceans is not easy.  All species spend the majority of their lives underwater and many inhabit remote and inhospitable parts of the world.  The IWC Scientific Committee continues to learn more about cetaceans every year, and these webpages should be regarded as a living and evolving resource.