A marine scientist at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science found a subspecies of bottlenose dolphins that had never been seen outside of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
Ana Costa, Ph.D., a lecturer at the Rosenstiel School who specializes in marine mammals, said that while most people think that all dolphin species are already known, new technology and ways of looking at things are helping to find a richer variety.
The Eastern Tropical Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus nuuanu) is a new subspecies of the common bottlenose dolphin that Costa and his colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found. She also said that the dolphins are most likely to be found between southern Baja California and the Galapagos Islands, which are far out to sea.
Costa and his colleagues started this study in 2016 by measuring and analyzing the shape of the skulls and total lengths of common bottlenose dolphins kept in a number of American museums. The Pacific Ocean is where these specimens were found. Bottlenose dolphin species were studied using multivariate and clustering methods.
The majority of common bottlenose dolphins live in the eastern and western North Pacific. Researchers found two different groups of dolphins based on their appearance: the new subspecies in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) and the common bottlenose dolphins in the rest of the Pacific. The different levels of oxygen, salt, and temperature in these seas could be causing the ETP bottlenose dolphin population to diversify.
Costa, who wrote the study, thought about how important it was and said that a better understanding of marine mammal populations is important for keeping and protecting different species and subspecies in this time of global warming. She also stressed how important it is to make protecting and managing marine life a global priority.