Saturday, July 19, 2014

Get to know the Irrawaddy Dolphin before it becomes extinct

The Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostis) is distributed in small populations through Southeast Asia. It is now placed under Vulnerable category because of its reportedly small numbers.

Compared to other dolphins, the Irrawaddy is distinctive through its round face, short beak, and a bulging forehead that makes it look more similar to a whale. 
There is little to no evidence of exploitation for the species, but the threats still come from fisheries as a bycatch, and from habitat loss  due to deforestation, mining, and development of dams which alters the water distribution and composition.
The species eats crustaceans and fish found in tropical and subtropical estuaries. They are rarely seen alone and are always socially feeding and swimming in groups in semi-marine environment, usually near the shore or close to mangrove forests, but most populations are found in freshwater or brackish areas like rivers, deltas, lakes, and bays.

Today, the current population numbers in certain areas are:

Malampaya Sound, Philippines: 77

Mekong River: 78-91

Mahakam River, Indonesia: 87

Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar: 58-72

Coastal waters of Bangladesh: 5,383

Sundarbans mangrove forest of Bangladesh: 451

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