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September 20, 2011

New Dolphin Species Discovered

Exciting news for cetacean lovers: DNA testing has revealed that what scientists had thought was a small population of bottlenose dolphins is actually a distinct species – one of only a few species of dolphin that have been discovered since the late 1800s.

The new species has been named the Burrunan dolphin— “Burrunan” is the Aboriginal word for a large porpoise-like fish. The Burrunan dolphin has a stubbier nose and a more curved dorsal fin than the bottlenose dolphin.

There are about 150 of the dolphins swimming off the coast of Melbourne. Because their small population and proximity to urban and agricultural centers, the dolphins may be threatened by runoff that ends up in their habitat, as well as commercial fishing and boat traffic.

Check out this video of the Burrunan dolphins from The Canberra Times: