The dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) is a dolphin found in coastal waters in the Southern Hemisphere. Its specific epithet is Latinfor “dark” or “dim”. It is very closely genetically related to the Pacific white-sided dolphin, but current scientific consensus holds they are distinct species. The dolphin’s range is patchy, with major populations around South America, southwestern Africa, New Zealand, and various oceanic islands, with some sightings around southern Australia and Tasmania. The dusky dolphin prefers cool currents and inshore waters, but can also be found offshore. It feeds on a variety of fish and squid species and has flexible hunting tactics. The dusky dolphin is known for its remarkable acrobatics, having a number of aerial behaviors. The status of the dolphin is unknown, but it has been commonly caught in gill nets.
It is commonly thought that the dusky dolphin was first described by John Edward Gray in 1828 from stuffed skin and a single skull shipped from the Cape of Good Hope to the British Museum. Gray first described the species as Delphinus obscurus, with the subgenus Grampus in his 1828 Specilegia Zoologica. Gray reported that the animal was captured around the Cape of Good Hope by a Captain Haviside (often misspelt “Heaviside”) and sent to the British Museum though the Royal College of Surgeons in 1827.
However, Gray later wrote that a similar dolphin was described as Delphinus supercilious by French surgeons and naturalists René Primevère Lesson and Prosper Garnot from a specimen collected off the coast of Tasmania two years before his own classification. Gray classified D. supercilious as a junior synonym of his D. obscurus and credited Lesson and Garnot (1826) for their original description. Meanwhile, Charles Darwin also described what turned out to be this species as Delphinus fitzroyifrom a specimen harpooned off Argentina in 1838. The dusky dolphin was reclassified asProdelphinus obscurus in 1885 by British naturalist William Henry Flower, before gaining its current binomial name, Lagenorhynchus obscurus, from American biologist Frederick W. True in 1889.
(From Wikipedia, October 2013)