Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) discovered a new species of humpback dolphin off the coast of Australia. This find is a huge step forward in the efforts to conserve marine life.

Scientists divide humpback dolphins into two groups: one living in the Atlantic Ocean, and the other found in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

These two groups make up the four different species of humpback dolphin. The recently discovered species is part of the Indo-Pacific group of humpback dolphins.

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There four different distinct humpback dolphin species. Photo Credit: The Guardian

Scientists discovered the new species through genetic testing and by examining tissues from over 200 different dolphins.

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The four different species of the Humpback Dolphin. Photo Credit: Patterson Clark/The Washington Post

This new information will help governments and conservation groups create policies tailored to each species, said Howard Rosenbaum, director of the society’s Ocean Giants program.

Conservationists claim humpback dolphins are threatened by habitat loss and fishing activity. 

“Humpback dolphins are considered ‘threatened’ in some waters and ‘vulnerable’ in other parts of the world,” the WCS said.

Knowing the distinct species is “essential to an appropriate framework for conservation,” according to Martin Mendez, assistant director of the society’s Latin America and the Caribbean program.

“You have to absolutely know what you are trying to preserve here,” said WCS.

“New information about distinct species across the entire range of humpback dolphins will increase the number of recognised species, and provides the needed scientific evidence for management decisions aimed at protecting their unique genetic diversity and associated important habitats,” WCS Ocean Giants program director Howard Rosenbaum told ABC news.

— Cara Meyers, exclusive to Global Animal