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.