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New species of dolphin discovered in Australia

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Researchers have discovered a new species of humpback dolphin living off the northern coast of Australia. Only two species—the Atlantic humpback dolphin and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin have been recognized prior to this.

In some ways, this species is new to science, but in other ways, it isn’t because researchers have known about this group down in Australia for a while. They just didn’t realize it was a different species. It’s rare to find a new species of mammal, but genetic information opens a new window.

Researchers are hopeful that this discovery will help humpback dolphin conservation. Countless dolphins die every year as by-catch in fisheries. The humpback dolphin is subject to particularly high rates of bycatch, and in some places is hunted directly. The legal framework used to protect vulnerable species is based on species designations.

Now that Australia has its own humpback dolphin species, it can set the stage for the appropriate conservation protections to be put in place.

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