Updated: October 09, 2012
Dwarf spinner dolphin discovery
The Murdoch Cetacean Research Unit have been studying coastal dolphins in north-west Australia, and have just published two new papers that provide much needed baseline data and reveal a new variety of Dwarf spinner dolphin. The papers also discuss the short-comings of Environmental Impact Assessments in Western Australia.The main species of dolphins found in coastal waters of North-West off Australia include:
- Snubfin dolphins (Orcaella heinsohni)
- Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis)
- Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus)
- A new species of Dwarf spinner dolphins (not yet described)
The first research paper is a forum essay which discusses the shortcomings in the current Environmental Impact Assessment process, relevant to surveying coastal dolphins in WA. And the second paper surveys all of the above species across the North West coast to gather independent baseline data about the populations and distribution of our NW coastal dolphins. As the closest relative to the dwarf spinner dolphin is found in the Gulf of Thailand, the NW dwarf spinner dolphin may be an entirely new species! Both papers were recently published in Pacific Conservation Biology, for abstracts click here.
"We are finding remarkable things that aren’t being found with the millions upon millions of dollars of environmental impact assessments and surveys for the proponents of coastal developments”, Simon Allen, Research fellow for the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit.
The Browse LNG Development has invested more than $80 million in environmental studies over many years to provide the company with baseline environmental data. Woodside’s surveys only identified the first two species listed above in small numbers, with the final two dolphins not being identified. Based on this data, the EPA then approved the proposed LNG hub at James Price Point, suggesting there would be no impact on dolphins at the population level.
Recent data collected by the Murdoch cetacean research unit’s together with the scale of coastal developments in the region, suggests otherwise - that tropical dolphin species need to be considered as likely to be impacted upon by coastal developments across north-western Australia.
If you live in Perth and would like to hear more about the most recent science at James Price Point, join us for a Protect the Kimberley Science forum on Nov. 14th at Mt. Lawley Bowls club (7pm start).
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society WA Inc
City West Lotteries House
2 Delhi St
West Perth, WA, 6005
Phone: 08 9420 7255