Over the years, an increasing number of animal species has been classified as endangered as their population numbers crash primarily due to habitat loss and environmental changes. River dolphins are one the world's most elusive and vulnerable creatures with the Chinese river dolphin having already become extinct and the Amazon river dolphins have been recently threatened by fisherman meaning that their numbers are declining at an alarming rate.
The Irrawaddy river dolphin is native the waters of South East Asia and is thought to be most closely related to the Orca (killer whale). The Irrawaddy river dolphin is known as a euryhaline species of dolphin which means that they are able to adapt to different types of water including both freshwater and salt water environments. The Irrawaddy dolphin is generally found in brackish water estuaries but sub-populations have formed elsewhere.
Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphin
One such population set up home in the stretch of the Mekong River that flows through both Laos and Cambodia. Although Irrawaddy dolphin population numbers in the Mekong have been falling due to advancements in fishing technologies, it has been reported that the number of Irrawaddy dolphins in this part of the Mekong have fallen dramatically since 2003 to less than 80 individuals.
Polluting The Mekong
The Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong are thought to be suffering from excessive pollution levels mainly made up of fertilisers that run from the fields and into the Mekong river. Out of the 80 Irrawaddy dolphin deaths over the past 6 years, around 60% of the dolphins are said to have been young calves. Not only is this news devastating for the dolphin population in the Mekong, but experts are also concerned that people living along the Mekong are also at risk when they eat the same fish that the dolphins do.
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