6,000 Rare Dolphins Found in South Asia
A huge population of rare dolphins threatened by climate change and fishing nets has been discovered in South Asia.
Researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society estimate that nearly 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins, marine mammals that are related to orcas or killer whales, were found living in freshwater regions of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangrove forest and adjacent waters of the Bay of Bengal.
There has been hardly any marine mammal research done in this area up to this point.
Each discovery of Irrawaddy dolphins is important because scientists do not know how many remain on the planet. Prior to this study, the largest known populations of Irrawaddy dolphins numbered in the low hundreds or less.
In 2008, they were listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List based on population declines in known dolphin populations.
"This discovery gives us great hope that there is a future for Irrawaddy dolphins," said Brian D. Smith, lead author of a study describing the discovery. "Bangladesh clearly serves as an important sanctuary for Irrawaddy dolphins, and conservation in this region should be a top priority."