Tursiops australis

Burrunan dolphin
Tursiops australis
Tursiops australis, adult, Bathurst Channel, Photo: Antonia Cooper



Until recently, two different species of bottlenose dolphin were known world-wide, the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus).

The Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis) was formally described as a new and separate species in 2011. With only two known resident populations in Victoria (Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes) the Burrunan dolphin has been listed as ‘endangered’ under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

In contrast to the common bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus), which has a dark grey colouration along their dorsal side and flanks, and a lighter underside, the Burrunan dolphin has a distinct tri-colouration with a darker grey on the dorsal side, a lighter grey along the flanks extending over the eye, and a whiter colour on the ventral side. These dolphins were commonly referred to as ‘Southern Australian Bottlenose’


Max Size: N/A cm

Sea Temperature Range: N/A

Depth: N/A

Habitat Generalization Index: N/A

Also referred to as the SGI (Species Generalisation Index), this describes the habitat niche breadth of the species. Species with values less than 15 are found in a relatively narrow range of reef habitat types (specialists), while those over 25 may be found on most hard substrates within their range (generalists). Learn more here.

Conservation and Rarity

IUCN Status: Not Evaluated

Occurrence: Common (33.3% of sites)

Occurrence describes how often the species is found on surveys within its distribution. It is calculated as the % of reef sites surveyed by RLS divers across all the ecoregions in which the species has been observed

Abundance: Several (6 per transect)

Abundance is calculated as the average number of individuals recorded per RLS transect, where present.

Edit by: Antonia Cooper