Australian snubfin dolphin

Snubfin Dolphin group

Orcaella heinsohni

The Australian snubfin looks a bit different to other Australian dolphins, with its distinctive rounded forehead and small ‘snubby’ dorsal fin. They vary in colour across their body from dark to light brown and white and grow to between 1.5 and 2.7m in length. It’s also one of the few dolphins that can move its head from side to side and up and down.

Habitat and food

Found in small numbers across the northern coastline of Australia from Kimberley in Western Australia around to the east coast of Queensland, as far south as the Fitzroy River. They are usually found living within 10km of land, in the mouths of tidal creeks and rivers, in water less than 5m deep. They also rely on mangrove systems and feed on a range of fish, crustaceans and squid.


A small group of around 80 snubfin dolphins have been found living in the waters at the mouth of the Fitzroy River. FBA funded research has shown this group is genetically isolated from other populations of snubfin dolphins. Their closest neighbours of the same species are at Proserpine, almost 460km away.

The main threats to the dolphins are loss of habitat because of development in coastal areas, decrease in food sources like fish and crustaceans, pollution that affects the quality of water where the dolphins live, and human activity in coastal waters (such as boat strikes).

We are learning more about the dolphins so we can promote good coastal management to help protect the dolphins. You can help by limiting boat speeds in shallow water and keeping an eye out for snubbies.

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