A preliminary study on Australia’s snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohnii) carried out by WWF-Australia has revealed some interesting insights into the life and habits of this mysterious marine mammal. The study, funded by ING DIRECT, has revealed some interesting facts, such as their method of hunting. They hunt in groups, chasing fish to the surface, and round them up by shooting jets of water from their mouths.
The snubfin dolphin is endemic to the Australia-Papua New Guinea region, and while researchers are still searching for more populations, the dolphins have been found in areas of northern Queensland (Princess Charlotte Bay, Hitchinbrook, Halifax Bay, Cleveland Bay, Bowling Green Bay, Repulse Bay and Fitzroy River), the Northern Territory (Darwin Harbour, Cobourg Peninsula, the Alligator Rivers region and Kakadu National Park) and northern Western Australia (Roebuck Bay near Broome, the Ord River/Cambridge Gulf, Prince Regent River, CapeLondonderry, King Sound, King George River, Deception Bay and Yampi Sound in the Kimberley Region).
Snubfin dolphins prefer inshore habitats, which makes them more likely to be caught in gill nets, and makes them susceptible to chemical pollution, viruses and bacteria. The concern for the snubfin dolphin follows the death of three Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins recovered around Townsville in the period 2000-2001 that were infected by Toxoplasma gondii – a parasite usually found in cat faeces that appears to have come from contaminated run-off.
Image credits: Tammy Matson