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Keywords:

  • Stenella longirostris;
  • dwarf spinner dolphin;
  • Gulf of Thailand;
  • morphometrics

Abstract

A very small form of the spinner dolphin has been found to inhabit the Gulf of Thailand. Ten specimens taken incidentally in a local shrimp fishery differ from specimens of this species collected elsewhere in body size and shape, skull size and shape, number of teeth and numbers of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Four cranially adult males were 129–137 cm long, well below the ranges for the Indian Ocean, western Pacific, central Pacific, eastern Pacific and Atlantic. The skull is also very small. Tooth counts and vertebral counts average lower than in other series. The color pattern is not significantly different from that of spinner dolphins in the central and western Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans but differs from that of the small eastern spinner of the eastern Pacific. The Gulf of Thailand specimens are morphologically separable from all other specimens, but it is to be expected that when larger samples are available there will be some overlap. The dwarf form may overlap in body and skull size with small spinner dolphins taken incidentally in a gillnet fishery for sharks off northern Australia. The geographic range of the dwarf spinner may be restricted. The size and status of the population and the impact of the shrimp fishery are unknown and should be investigated. The dwarf spinner may have an ecology different from that of other spinners, feeding mainly on reef-associated and benthic organisms rather than mesopelagic animals.