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

New G.
New G.4 years ago

Agree with the previous comment.

J.L. A.
JL A.4 years ago

Biodiversity and ecosystems need protection!

mary l.
mary l.4 years ago

so sad

Carole R.
Carole R.4 years ago

What a sad reality. :0(

Serena Alonzi
4 years ago

so sad :(

Beverly G.
beverly. g.4 years ago

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.

Beverly G.
beverly. g.4 years ago

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.

Janet Ives
Janet Ives4 years ago

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

Dianne D.
Dianne D.4 years ago

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.