Snubfin dolphin
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A rare and recently discovered species of Australian dolphin catches its prey by spitting at it.

The snubfin dolphin is found along Australia's northern coastlines and was recognised as a new species only in 2005.

The snubfin not only looks strange - it has a small dorsal fin and round, melon-like head - but new research shows it has an unusual method of feeding.

World Wildlife Fund Australia's marine and coasts manager Lydia Gibson said the small dolphins hunt in groups, chasing fish to the surface 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," Ms Gibson said.

"It also confirms the snubfin dolphin is a fascinating animal, one which we know so little about."

Ms Gibson said the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) research had revealed habitat destruction was the key threat to the species.

Classified as near threatened, they are more 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.

"There are already development proposals around the Great Barrier Reef that could affect their habitat - like the extension of the Townsville port - that could have major impacts on these species," Ms Gibson said.

Source: Australia Associated Press