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Endangered Dolphins Decline More

A recent survey of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River showed their numbers have dropped to only 85. Their population has been studied by photographing them and noting unique markings of their dorsal fins. Survival of their calves is very low, so the small numbers mean they could go extinct. They are mainly threatened by fishing practices that result in them being accidentally caught, as well as habitat loss. In the 1950s there thousands living in the Mekong. Now on any given day, there may be more tourist boats looking for them than there are dolphins.

Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, India and Indonesia also have critically endangered populations. Only the Irrawaddy living in Bangladeshi waters are at more stable population of about 5,800.

Irrawaddy dolphins are actually ocean dolphins that live in brackish water. They have been known for behaviors such as spitting water, fluke-slapping and spyhopping, which means they raise their heads out of the water to see better. (Orcas also do this.)

There have been reports these dolphins sometimes help fishermen by driving fish into their nets. Sadly, it is this close relationship with humans that is costing many dolphin lives because they get stuck in their nets sometimes and drown. Habitat loss occurs when river development projects like dams and levees are constructed. Additionally sometimes explosive devices are used for fishing to kill fish in the Mekong’s deep pools. Such loud explosions can injure or kill the dolphins.

Image Credit:

Jean-Claude Durka

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51 comments

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10:58AM PST on Jan 10, 2013


Look at What WE are Doing to Our Earth

Earth Cry

11:33PM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

Agree with the previous comment.

6:43AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Biodiversity and ecosystems need protection!

5:33AM PST on Jan 26, 2012

so sad

5:33PM PST on Jan 20, 2012

What a sad reality. :0(

7:17AM PDT on Sep 20, 2011

so sad :(

5:39PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

JANET IVES your so right i agree with you, and Tracey P , also Marie W God Bless them i hope something happens to help them b4 they are extinct.

5:39PM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

JANET IVES your so right i agree with you, and Tracey P , also Marie W God Bless them i hope something happens to help them b4 they are extinct.

6:37PM PDT on Sep 15, 2011

Sadly, we are in a time of mass extinctions ...

8:00AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

Way too many humans on this planet and not enough room for animals. We need to control the human population and give back to the animals. I think we need to eliminate those that cause a strain on society. If they can't be productive, then they must go.

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