At the Heart of the Industrial Boom: Australian Snubfin Dolphins in the Capricorn Coast, Queensland, Need Urgent Conservation Action

Cagnazzi, Daniele; Parra, Guido J.; Westley, Shane; Harrison, Peter L.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The recent industrial boom along the Australian coastline has increased concerns about the long term conservation of snubfin dolphins along the Queensland coast. National assessment of the conservation status and management of the Australian snubfin dolphin is currently hindered by the lack of adequate biological and ecological information throughout most of its range. In response to the issue of determining the conservation status of species with broad ranges, the IUCN has provided a framework for assessing the threatened status of regional populations. In this study we assessed the conservation status of a small geographically isolated population of snubfin dolphins living in the Fitzroy River region, Queensland, Australia, against the IUCN criteria for regional populations. A review of all available sightings data and stranding information indicates that this is the southernmost resident population of snubfin dolphins in Australian waters. The Fitzroy River snubfin dolphin population is composed of less than 100 individuals, with a representative range and core area of less than 400 and 300 km2 respectively. The area most often used by snubfin dolphins within the representative range and core area was estimated to be about 292 and 191 km2, respectively. A decrease in representative range, core area and preferred habitat between 14 and 25% is projected to occur if a planned industrial port development were to occur. These results are robust to uncertainty and considering the low level of formal protection and future threats, a classification of this subpopulation under the IUCN Red List as “Endangered” is appropriate.


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