The Endangered Mekong Dolphin Might Be Saved from Extinction

When it comes to Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia, it takes the guest’s curiosity. The dolphins here are so smart and friendly that any visitor wants to witness first-hand when traveling to Cambodia. One of the best ways to spot these lovely animals is by our Luxury Mekong River Cruises which offers a stunning sight of the river, the people and these animals as well.

Although Irrawaddy dolphins often live in a large area, from the Ganges to the islands of Indonesia, just a few species live in freshwater rivers. Most Irrawaddy dolphins live in coastal areas, prefer brackish water of estuaries.

irrawaddy dolphinPicture of an Irrawaddy Dolphin at dusk on Mekong River

Some Characteristics of Irrawaddy Dolphins You May Not Know

The Mekong Dolphin or Irrawaddy Dolphin has a unique appearance among other dolphins. They have a blunt snout and a high, rounded forehead instead of a beak and streamlined head. They have long, broad pectoral fins which help them move easily through the water.

  • Irrawaddy dolphins can weigh up to 400 lbs (181 kg) and can reach lengths up to 8 ft (2.4 m).
  • A female Irrawaddy dolphin has a gestation period of about 14 months. Calves can weigh about 10 kg with a length of about 3.3 ft (1 m). Calves often stay with their mothers for two years before feeding by themselves.

  • The Irrawaddy dolphin’s diet is diverse with a variety of food including fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. The Irrawaddy dolphin population is considered to be a vulnerable species but they are not immediately endangered if there are proper and timely protecting actions.
  • For the first time in the past few decades, the freshwater dolphins in Cambodia that are in danger of extinction have re-emerged, marking an impressive recovery of freshwater fishes.
  • Irrawaddy dolphins are nearly blind. They have very small eyes. The grey water of the Mekong they swim in is often so muddy that even if the could see they could only see a few inches in front of them
  • The Lifespan of an Irrawaddy Dolphin is around 16-28 years. 
  • Irrawaddy dolphins act as top ecosystem predators, feeding on and regulating populations of fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans.
  • Irrawaddy Dolphin can be found in which river? These beautiful creatures are found in scattered areas throughout the Indo-Pacific region, ranging from the Philippines to the Northeastern part of India: Mahakam (Indonesia); the Ayeyarwady or Irrawaddy (Burma); and finally, the Mekong (Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam). They are also known to live in Chika Lake in India as well as Songkhla Lake in Thailand. 

Suggested Read: The 10 Best Mekong Cruises to Vietnam and Cambodia

Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin spotted near Kratie, Cambodia

Irrawaddy Dolphins May Escape from the Verge of Extinction 

The Irrawaddy dolphins, noted for their high forehead and short nose, once appeared very much along the Mekong River before clumping in a 190km stretch of river from the Central to Northern Cambodia, which is in close proximity with Lao border in the past few decades. The number of Irrawaddy dolphins has also gradually decreased from 200 in 1997 to 80 in 2015 due to environmental degradation and increasingly heavy fish- catching.

Currently, the number of Irrawaddy dolphins has shown signs of increasing again when the number of fries is getting larger while the number of dead fish is getting smaller. According to Cambodian Conservation Officials and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), over the past two years, the number of Irrawaddy dolphins has increased to 92 and this is considered a proof that these special fish can avoid the danger of extinction.

Suggested Read: The Best Time for A Cruise on Mekong River

Incredible creatures of Mother Nature!

This is the result of years of efforts by Cambodian Conservation Officials and WWF conservation agencies through measures such as increasing patrols on the river, discovering and removing ready-to-use fishing nets. Tour organizers on the river are also said to contribute a part to the effort to restore the number of Irrawaddy dolphins when regularly detecting fishing activities and spreading nets on the river.

Rare moments when 2 Irrawaddy Dolphin Jumping out on the Mekong

However, Cambodian officials warned that the threat of this species has not been eliminated when illegal fishing activities using the grid, grenades, and baits continue. Cambodia considers Irrawaddy dolphins as their "national treasures" and pledges to eliminate all threats of the survival of this fish. Not only living in Cambodia, but Irrawaddy dolphins also appear in rivers and lakes in Myanmar, Indonesia, India, and Thailand.

Suggested Read: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Cruise on Mekong River

A monk looks for dolphins in Mekong river

New observation activity is launched in Kampi to help save Irrawaddy dolphins

Traveling on our Mekong Pandaw Cruise is a special chance for you to get amazing sights of the Irrawaddy Dolphins. If you're lucky enough, you can spot some on the day we passing Kratie. The cruise is also one of the most impressive and authentic experiences to get a feel for the rustic yet charming scenery of Cambodia as you venture into the heart of the country. Just enjoy your own adventure before everyone does and witness this one-of-a-kind creature!

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