The WCR hosts a highly diversified community of marine mammals, with more than 35 species currently identified. The conservation status of these species varies but some have been listed in the IUCN red list of threatened species as well at the national level by countries in the WCR. Currently, seven marine mammal species of the WCR have been classified as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable, two are designated as nearly threatened, and at least eight are considered data deficient.
Marine mammals also hold a unique place in the collective psyche and economies of the WCR. As a breeding and calving ground for some marine mammal species, the warm waters of the Caribbean see the perennial return or residency of a diversity of marine mammal species and populations that serve as a drive for tourism, as well as a natural resource to be consumed or utilized by others. Most marine mammal species are highly mobile and are therefore a shared natural heritage among all SPAW Contracting Parties. All marine mammal species are protected under the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol (i.e., all are currently listed on Annex II of the Protocol).