Irrawady Dolphins: Environment for UPSC Exams

Irrawady Dolphins: Environment for UPSC Exams

Irrawady Dolphins:

  • The Irrawaddy dolphin is a species of oceanic dolphin found in near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.
  • Although sometimes called the Irrawaddy river dolphin, it is not a true river dolphin, but an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish water near coasts, river mouths and in estuaries. 
  • It has established subpopulations in freshwater rivers, including the Ganges and the Mekong, as well as the Irrawaddy River from which it takes its name. 
  • Its range extends from the Bay of Bengal to New Guinea and the Philippines although they do not appear to venture off shore.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable, Populations outside Bangladesh and India are classified as critically endangered.
  • Irrawaddy dolphins are primarily threatened by bycatch, the accidental capture of aquatic animals in fishing gear
  • WWF has identified the Irrawaddy dolphin as a flagship species for the conservation of the Mekong River because these dolphins have certain minimum habitat requirements that reflect the health of the river ecosystem.
  • The Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon of the country, has recorded a marginal drop in the population of Irrawaddy dolphins from 144 in 2015 to 134 in 2016.

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