New dolphin species identified off Australia

Australian researcher identifies this new species of dolphin

Dolphins are for many a creature filled with mystery and a bit of whimsy. Whether you remember the now iconic Flipper or have actually had the thrill of swimming with dolphins, these highly intelligent marine mammals evoke a heart-felt response that’s part wonder and part joy.

An Australian researcher has successfully identified a new species of dolphin that makes its home off the coast of Australia.

Originally thought to be part of one of the two recognized bottlenose dolphin species,  Kate Charlton-Robb, Ph.D a researcher in the School of Biological Sciences from the University of Monash has found evidence that these dolphins are in fact unique.

The newly named Tursiops australis with the common name, the Burrunan dolphin is only the fourth new dolphin species formally described and recognized since the late 1800s.

“What makes this even more exciting is this dolphin species has been living right under our noses, with only two known resident populations living in Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria,” said Ms Charlton-Robb.

There is only a small population of these special dolphins in existence – 100 dolphins in Port Phillip Bay and 50 in the Gippsland Lakes. These dolphins are smaller than other bottlenose dolphins and have a grey color pattern.

Ms Charlton-Robb said it is important this study continues in order to conserve and protect the Burrunan dolphin for future generations. More research is required to determine if there are other resident populations of this species in Australia.

It’s an incredibly exciting discovery. Let’s hope that conservation efforts will help this new species to thrive and grow.

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