A new dolphin for Darwin Harbour
Darwin Harbour is home to a number of dolphin species. Sea Darwin’s vessel is named after the Snubfin, the shy dolphin which is endemic to northern Australia. Every now and then our passengers are treated to a showing of these smiling mammals, but more often we see the humpback dolphin. We have always thought that this species was the Indo-Pacific Humpback, until the announcement this week that a new species of humpback dolphin has been discovered in Northern Australian waters. It might be that our mammal sightings have included this new species which has not been named yet. The announcement of a new dolphin species came after researching scientists analysed more than 180 skulls and 235 tissue samples for genetic and morphological differences. The findings were recently published in Molecular Ecology and represent a collaboration between several organizations, including American Museum of Natural History and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Humpback dolphins can grow to be 2.4 metres long, with colours that range from pink to dark grey. These are the main species that are sighted on our Darwin Harbour cruises, but we also sometimes see Indo-Pacific bottlenose and the Snubfins as well as dugong. All of the species that we see in Darwin and Bynoe Harbours are threatened, and our mammal sightings have significantly reduced in the last 12 months with the increased industrial activity on Darwin Harbour.