Posted by: learnaboutdolphins | October 1, 2011

On a Positive Note:

For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I have been discussing the terrible things that have been happening to my friends in the sea. I have been discussing how they are being slaughtered and how unhappy they are in captivity. However, today I am going to focus on a more positive side. Today, I am going to tell you about a new dolphin species that has been discovered.

Earlier this week I was thinking about what I was going to write about this week and I was not sure what to say. I began to read through my weekly Surfrider Foundation E-mail and they were talking about how scientists discovered a new species of dolphin in Australia. The Surfrider Foundation set up a link to read the rest of the article on 

The dolphins, named Tursiops australis, have a combined population of about 150 and were originally thought to be one of the two existing bottlenose dolphin species. Monash University PhD researcher Kate Charlton-Robb discovered they were unique by comparing skulls, DNA and physical traits with specimens dating back to the early 1900s.

The article went on to say that this new species will more commonly be known as the Burrunan dolphin. This name comes from the Aboriginal name meaning “large sea fish of the porpoise kind.”

Pod of Burrunan Dolphins

These dolphins are indigenous to the southern coast of Australia. However, Dr. Kate Charlton-Robb went on to say that more research needed to be conducted before they can determine is there are other populations of Burrunan dolphins living in Australia. This species was discover in the middle of September, so this an extremely new discovery. This new dolphin species was discovered in Victoria, Australia. There founder, Dr. Kate Charlton-Robb went on to state,

This is an incredibly fascinating discovery as there have only been three 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.

According to the majority of these dolphins have been found swimming near Melbourne, Australia’s second most populated city.

Map of Australia with Victoria Highlighted

The article went on to state that is has been known for a long time that a distinct type of dolphins roamed off the southwestern coast of Australia. And now DNA tests have proven that these creates are not only physically distinct, but they are also genetically very different from the two recognized bottlenose dolphin species, the common bottlenose dolphin and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin. Dr. Kate Charlton-Robb, the study leader, went on to say,

 The results were so surprising that the team initially thought there was a mistake and reran the tests. The main focus of the research was to figure out which of the two [known] bottlenose species these guys were. But from the [DNA] sequences that we got, it turned out that they were very different from either of the known species.

For those of you who might be confused, here are the slight differences between the three types of bottlenose dolphins:

The Common Bottlenose Dolphin:

Common Bottlenose Dolphin

According to, bottlenose dolphins are generally:

  • 2 to 3.9 meter (6.6 – 12.8 feet) long
  • weight about 150 to 200 kg (331.5 – 442 lbs)
  • Dolphins that live in offshore ecotypes adapt for cooler waters and tend to be longer than dolphins that live in inshore ecotypes
  • on average, full grown males are slightly longer than females, and are considerably heavier
  • In the Pacific, large bottlenose dolphins can grow to about 12 feet long and weigh about 1,000 pounds
  • they have a sleek, streamlined, fusiform body
  • its skin is smooth and feels rubbery; has no hair or sweat
  • skin color is grey on its back, fading to white on its lower jaw and belly

The Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin:

The Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin

As stated on, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are most commonly:

  • approximately 8-8.5 feet long
  • can weigh up to 500 pounds
  • they are either dark grey or black in color and there underside of the belly is often a dark white or a lighter shade of gray.
  • they are long and sleek in their body design
  • They live near India, the Red Sea, China, Australia and Africa
  • travel in pods, some as low as 5, but on average they travel in pods of 15, but come travel in pods of 100 members

The Burrunan Bottlenose Dolphin:

The Burrunan Bottlenose Dolphin

According to, the Burrunan dolphins looks are what made researchers more inclined to look into the idea of a new species of bottlenose dolphins.

  • Burrunan dolphins have a slight cranial differences that set them apart from the other bottlenose dolphins
  • they also have a more curved dorsal fin
  • a stubbier beak
  • a unique “tricoloration” – dark gray, mid-gray and white

Continued from the article on, the Burrunan research team has petitioned the Australian government to list the Burrunan bottlenose dolphin as an endangered species because there are so few of the new dolphin species known. And stated by Dr. Kate Charlton-Robb, “Given the small size of the population, it’s crucial that we make an effort to protect them.” So lets make an effort to keep our new friends out of harms way and do what we can to keep them in the ocean where they belong.



  1. After reading the three blog that you researched i am very amazed with what we are doing to the dolphins, it also encourage me not to go to dolphin parks, swim with dolphins programs, etc. I am also shocked of what our human kind is doing to the dolphins. I also think that your blog has help spreading the word to people that going to dolphins park, swimming with dolphins programs are harming them, and I’m sure that this will help and save our friends in the sea.

  2. I can’t believe that they are still discovering new species after all these years of science! It is great to hear that among all of the terror that dolphins are facing there are some positive discoveries! I love dolphins and completely agree that we should do all we can to save ALL species!

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