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The Fresh Water Dolphins Day is celebrated on the 24th of October every year.

 

These freshwater dolphins are known to measure the health of rivers where they live - If their numbers are thriving, then that means the water systems are thriving as well. Sadly,  their numbers are declining, and that’s a sign of a bad ecosystem altogether. 

 

There are five extant species of river dolphins left in the world, and their existence is threatened by pollution, catch and shipping.

 

One of the most threatened species of River Dolphins is the Irrawaddy Dolphins. It is estimated there are around less than 100 individuals left in the wild. Irrawaddy Dolphins have a unique look among dolphins. They have a blunt snout and high, rounded forehead. In South and Southeast Asia, they are found in rivers Ayeyarwady (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo), and the Mekong. Like most river dolphins, the mammals' transition between fresh and sea waters.

 Photo courtesy of Mavic Matillano 

Facts about Irrawaddy Dolphin:

  • They generally feed on plenty of items, namely crustaceans, fish and cephalopods.
  • They depend on echolocation for movement in dark places, which allows them to find food and know of any threats in their surroundings. 
  • It can weigh about 400 lbs(181kg) and length up to 8Ft (2.4m) 
  • They are considered slow swimmers but can swim faster when startled or frightened.
  • They generally hunt in a group of 7 dolphins, encircling their prey to trap and feed on them.
  • Female dolphins have a gestation period of about 14 months, giving birth every two to three years. Calves stay with their moms for two years before they are left to fend for themselves.
  • They stick in smaller groups of 7 dolphins or as few as two.
  • They are rarely seen above water, but they come out to catch a breath once in a while.
  • They have a lifespan of 30 - 50 years. 

Why are Irrawaddy dolphins important?

  • They are crucial to the overall health of the rivers they live in.
  • They are considered sacred animals by Khmer and Lao people. 
  • They are also a source of income and jobs for communities that practise the ecotourism of dolphin watching. 

Photo courtesy of Dipani Sutaria.

Irrawaddy Dolphin is considered an endangered species due to human-related threats like agriculture due to pesticides use which causes pollution, and gold mining. There has been a high decrease in numbers over the last 50 years due to habitat degradation and destruction, injuries and pollution. The dolphin main threats are fishnets entanglement and habit degradation. Overfishing is also a threat in that it leaves them with no or small amount of food to feed on.

Healthy rivers equal rich biodiversity and large fish stock hence sustainable eco-tourism and livelihoods of the local communities. To save the lives of  Irrawaddy dolphins, sustainable fishing practices need to be adopted and tracking the dolphins. 

 

Irrawaddy Inspired Brooch:

She Loves Blooms designed  Sedna with Snubbie Dolphin to raise awareness around endangered dolphins. The brooch design was inspired by the Irrawaddy Dolphins and led me to read more about melon head beakless dolphins. Did you know there are around four other melon head dolphins – the Risso Dolphin (Canada), Yangtze Porpoise and Australia’s Snubfin Dolphin?

Wishing you a flippin' week!

 

10月 24, 2021 3 min read


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