The Endangered but Derpy Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy dolphins can be found in shallow coastal or freshwater systems in the tropical and south tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean.

They are found in major river systems in south east Asia and India, specifically the Mekong. Irrawaddy dolphins were once common on the north coast of Australia, but like elsewhere, their numbers are dwindling.

The Irrawaddy looks more like the finless porpoise than the dolphins you see at marina shows. The major difference of course being the presence of the dorsal fin.

The Irrawaddy dolphin is gray in color and an average length between 2 and 2.75 meters. They weigh between 90-150 kg.

Both the tail and the neck are relatively flexible and it is written that facial expressions can be recognized. They have no beak and their blowholes are slightly offset to the left.

Irrawaddy dolphins are slow moving and generally not as playful as their open water cousins.

Irrawaddy dolphins live in family groups of 6. They are not very active nor are they as playful as other dolphins. They don’t perform the same leaps and jumps and they do not approach boats with curiosity. They have been reported to assist fisherman in Cambodia and Laos by herding fish into their nets.

Irrawaddy dolphins communicate in the same way as other dolphins: with sonar signals.

Irrawaddy dolphins feed from the mid water level as well as from the bottom. They eat bony fish and crustaceans. Squid is sometimes a part of their diet.

Dolphins are considered sacred in Cambodia and Vietnam and fishermen do no kill them for food. In Laos is it believed that dolphins are reincarnated humans and are protected against hunting by law. The dwindling supply of their staple diet, fish is affecting population, however, and it is thought that there are less than 500 dolphins left in this river.

Numbers in other parts of the Indo-Pacific region are unknown, but due to the rarer sightings, the Irrawaddy dolphin is thought to be the most in danger of extinction among the cetacean order. Due to the lack of accurate information and numbers, they are not currently on the endangered list.

That is all I have for the almighty derpy Irrawaddy Dolphin. But seriously, they are unique and important creatures to the world and we should try to keep them away from any danger they may face.


Digital illustration by Oattra Kyaw

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