SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most widely studied marine mammals, but when it comes to their genetics we don't know much.

But now a new, high-quality genome has been sequenced and assembled and it could lead to some remarkable discoveries.

The dolphin genome assembly project started in San Diego with a collaboration between SeaWorld and Illumina.

An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin at SeaWorld named Sandy was part of the very special project with a global impact. Dolphin genomes have been determined before, but never at this level of accuracy.

This high-quality genome is essential to species conservation - ensuring dolphins are thriving in the wild. It also supports advances in understanding human health based upon the genetics in common between dolphins and humans.

A DNA sample was taken from Sandy and the DNA sequencing from Sandy was performed at Illumina. Dozens volunteered their time over the course of four years to make the data collection possible.

This project marks the first time Illumina has collaborated with SeaWorld for any type of project which could not have been done anywhere else in the world because of all the expertise we have locally.