The Australian Humpback is the World’s Newest Dolphin Species (After 300 Years of Misclassification)

by Owen James Burke


The Australian humpback dolphin (Sousa sahulensis) has been around for thousands of years, but until recently, scientists have mistakenly grouped them in with Asian and African humpback dolphins.

Physically, not much sets the Australian humpback apart from its wider-ranging cousin other than its lighter-gray back and a display of white flecks on its belly. Though unlike its closest relatives, the Australian humpbacks do not venture into open waters and stick to the shallower waters between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Despite their tendency to hover near shores, Australian humpbacks aren’t frequently seen. Still, the species is heavily affected by human activity and marine biologists think that rapid coastal development could be endangering their well-being.

There isn’t much distinguishing Australian humpbacks from the rest of the humpback dolphins, but scientists hope that awareness of a new species might strike up more conservational interest as their current population is estimated to be low (perhaps only a few thousand, studies estimate).

Read more at Take Part — OB

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