Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NT dolphin spits at fish for a feed

RARE and newly-discovered species of dolphin found off the Territory coast catches its prey by spitting at it, new research shows. The research gives an overview of the life and habits of the snubfin dolphin, which lives along Australia's northern coastlines and was only recognised as a new species in 2005. WWF Australia's marine and coasts manager Lydia Gibson said the small dolphins hunt in groups, chasing fish to the surface of the water and rounding them up by shooting jets of water from their mouths. "This incredibly unusual behaviour, first seen in Australia off the Kimberley Coast, has only been noted before in Irrawaddy dolphins, which are closely related to this species," she said.The snubfins are classified as "near threatened" but can be found at a number of locations off the Queensland and Territory coasts, as well as the Kimberley region of WA.Ms Gibson said the WWF research showed that habitat destruction was the key threat to the snubfins. They are vulnerable to pollution, viruses and bacteria because they live close to shore, and are more likely than other dolphins to get caught in gill nets.

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