New images of UK dolphin astound Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Experts from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) were left stunned when pictures taken recently by their research team revealed one member of a pod of dolphins that they have been monitoring off the coast of Cornwall possessed an extra dorsal fin. Named ‘Snooky’ by the researchers, the bottlenose dolphin is a large male known for his extreme speed, agility and mischievous behaviour. "It is something really unusual, says WDCS researcher Philip Charles. In nearly 20 years of watching and studying dolphins I have never seen a double-finned bottlenose. This extra fin has certainly enabled ‘Snooky’ to maneouvre at faster speeds.” “This has come as somewhat of a surprise, as we know of no other actual sighting of a double-finned dolphin anywhere in the world”, says WDCS director of science, Mark Simmonds. “We have been monitoring various species as part of our Species Guide project, a comprehensive, free on-line resource that lists details about a vast range of whales and dolphin species, and when we first saw pictures of ‘Snooky’ we were both amazed and very excited. “We believe that selection pressure on dolphins in recent years may have caused several individuals to develop a remarkable second dorsal fin. This is a rare and never previously photographed example of Lamarckian Inheritance, caused by the large number of dolphins that have damaged or lost their original dorsal fin as a result of ship strikes and entanglement in nets. Those dolphins that survive strikes and entanglement, have fathered a new generation of bi-finned dolphins like ‘Snooky’.

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