Snubfin Dolphin The Australian Snubfin Dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni) is a recently recognised species of dolphin, scientifically described in 2005.
It is closely related to the Irrawaddy dolphin
(O. brevirostris), and closely resembles it. Until very recently they were thought to be Irrawaddy dolphins. However, the Australian snubfin is tri-coloured, while the Irrawaddy dolphin only has two colours on its skin. Also the skull and the fins show minor differences between the two species.
This newly described species is quiet rare and only seen very occasionaly. The Australian Snubfin is the first new dolphin species to be described in 56 years.
Growing to a maximum length of about 2.8 metres, the Snubfin Dolphin feeds on fish and squid in river-mouths and nearshore areas.
The Snubfin is rarely sighted because it is extremely shy and scared of boats. The best place to see the Snubfin Dolphin is around the Townsville Ross River mouth.
Until 2003, the Snubfin Dolphin was throught to be an Irrawaddy Dolphin. However in this year, dolphin researchers determined that the local populations of Irrawaddy's were a distinct species unique to Australian waters.
Snubfin Dolphins hunt using low frequency sonar and this is potentially disturbed by noise from boats.
Along with the Australia dugong if you manage to sight or photograph any of these rare animals , we at Islandive would love to hear about your encounter..
Snubfin Dolphin Image by Guido Parra
Snubfin dolphins at play
The above irrawaddy dolphin also frequents our waters and is a very similair breed. Up until Dna testing in 2005 it was believed the local GBR snubfins were Irrawaddy dolphins