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A stellar Stenella

The species name for the Clymene dolphin, Stenella clymene, likely was inspired by the water nymph daughter of the Titan Oceanus, also named Clymene [1]. This dolphin species is also commonly known as the short-snouted spinner dolphin, not to be confused with the Eastern spinner dolphin whom they frequently school with. The Clymene dolphin is very "acrobatic", often spinning and jumping out of the Atlantic waters they call home [2].

Research done on mitochondrial and nuclear markers in Amaral et al. (2014) shows that the Clymene dolphin is likely the result of the natural species hybridization between two Stenella species, Stenella coerueloalba and Stenella longisrostris. In this paper, the authors note that the cranial features of the Clymene dolphin closely resemble those of S. coeruleoalba, but its external appearance and behavior are more similar to those of S. longirostris. Natural hybridization in mammals is believed to be rare event but also an opportunity to share beneficial mutations and increase genetic diversity.

There is still much to be learned about this species, including their reproductive habits and lifespan. Although not endangered, the Clymene dolphin is protected under the CITES Appendix II [3]. One of the main threats to this species is getting entangled in fishing gear and nets. Ocean noise made by industrial and military boats also disturbs the Clymene dolphin, which rely on sound and echolocation to hunt, communicate like many other marine mammals.

Clymene dolphins, photo by Keith Mullin [NOAA/SEFSC MMPA Permit 779-1633]

Today, we share the chromosome-length genome assembly for the Clymene dolphin, Stenella clymene. The genome was assembled following the $1K strategy described in (Dudchenko et al., 2018). See our Methods page for more details.

This work was performed under Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) Permit No. 18786-03 issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) specimen used in this study (Field ID WAM 602; Storage ID NM15K707C) was collected from from Topsail Island, NC by Bill McLellan (UNCW). This specimen was provided by the National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank, which is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the NIST Biorepository, which is operated under the direction of NMFS with the collaboration of USGS, USFWS, MMS, and NIST through the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.

This is the 4th Stenella dolphin species we've released so far. Check out the chromosome-length contact map for Stenella clymene below, and compare data to that released with the blog post by Ben Neely to learn more about other species in this fascinating genus of dolphins and compare their genome alignments! See also de novo assembly of the mitochondrion for the species shared in the full data release folder.

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