A study into the Coffin Bay dolphin population by two Flinders University PhD students
has revealed the dolphins are a new species of bottlenose dolphin known as the Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis).
During the last two years Fernando Diaz-Aguirre and Cecilia Passadore, from the Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab at Flinders University, have used a variety of measures to study the new species.
Their investigations have included boat-based surveys, photo-identification, biopsy sampling, species distribution models, association analyses and observations of social network behaviour.
Fernando Diaz-Aguirre said this has helped them to establish that the Coffin Bay dolphins are separate from the common bottlenose and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.
“The Burrunan Dolphin is only found in coastal and inshore waters of southern Australia, and little is known about them.
“Our research aims to provide baseline information about the population size, survival, distribution, density, social structure and use of the varied habitats within Coffin Bay by the dolphins. “
Cecilia Passadore said that the results of their work will improve the basic knowledge of this recently discovered species.
“We will have a better understanding of this species’ habitat and relationships, and will be able to identify areas of major importance for the dolphins within Coffin Bay and reveal the social organisation and structure of this new species,” she said.
The evening is being sponsored by Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula.