International Freshwater Dolphin Day: 24 October 2021

Worldwide the International Freshwater dolphin day is celebrated on 24 October so that we can raise more voices to protect and conserve freshwater dolphins from extinction. Mainly the day was for conserving the Irrawaddy dolphin as a unique part of Cambodia’s biological heritage.

Dolphins are the oldest creatures on earth and are most widely associated with oceans. However, porpoises creature of dolphins is also found in freshwaters especially in several major rivers of South America and Asia.

The river dolphins act as an indicator of the aquatic ecosystem where they live. When the population of dolphin increase, it means the overall condition of that freshwater ecosystem is likely thriving. Instead, if the population of dolphins diminishes, it is considered an alarming condition for the whole aquatic ecosystem.

International Freshwater Dolphin Day

The major threat to dolphin species is bycatch while fishing, infrastructure, and pollutions. Although World Wildlife Fund (WWF) together with many countries are working at policy and local practice level to identify all the threats and protects the habitats as well.

Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) also known as pink river dolphin that is well-known for its long snout and pale pink color. This dolphin swims throughout the American river basin and neighboring Orinoco River basin prolonging through Colombia and Venezuela. The major challenges to Amazon River Dolphins are pollution, killing to use as bait in the mota catfish fishery. As well, dam constructions are also shrinking the range, space to breed, and fragmenting the population.

Bolivian River Dolphin (Inia boliviensis) roamed in streams and lagoons in Bolivian Amazon. These are also trapped in fishing nets and used for bait, which also faces the threat of mercury contamination from mining. Besides, the construction of hydroelectric dams can limit their routes and breeding habitats.

Tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis), the smaller, gray-colored dolphin found in the Amazon River and Orinoco River basin. These dolphins roam in groups and jump out of the water. The scarcity of migratory fish is limiting their feeds that can pose a threat. Furthermore, the construction of dams is also fragmenting their territory and warning breeding opportunities.

Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) locally known as Susu that inhabits the Ganges, Meghna, and Brahmaputra river systems in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This species is blind and can sense only the course of light. The major threats to the Ganges River Dolphin are agricultural and industrial pollution, dam construction, irrigation project, fishing, and other development activities that are reducing their range.

Indus River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) is found swimming in the lower part of the Indus River basin in Pakistan and an isolated small group is also found in the Beas River in India. In the muddy river water ecosystem, the Indus River dolphin depends on echolocation to navigate, communicate, and catch prey. From the year 1930, the construction of a vast number of dams and barrages fragmented the dolphin’s population into isolated smaller groups. Further degraded their habitat and hindered migration. As well, they are also susceptible to fishing nets and pollutions is another threat to the aquatic environment of Indus River dolphins.

Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) is seen in three rivers named the Irrawaddy, the Mahakam, and the Mekong in South and Southeast Asia. Unsustainable fishing threatened this gray animal. Although it cannot be directly exploited, however unwillingly it can catch in fishing gear with other fish. Some other threats are habitat degradation and isolation of population, and development of dams.

Yangtze Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis) habitat in the longest liver in Asia named Yangtze River. Another species of dolphin also there named the Baiji dolphin that got extinct in 2006. This finless porpoise is renowned for it its mischievous smile and intelligence. The utmost threats to Yangtze finless porpoise are dredging, pollution, shipping, transportation, sand mining, and illegal fishing.

To protect and conserve the freshwater dolphin WWF with different governmental bodies are collaborating and working simultaneously to find the best suitable spaces that can be the suitable habitat for dolphins. Moreover, took various steps to trace the number of dolphins by using drones, reducing pollution, improving the economy in the fisheries community to condense over-fishing.

The freshwater dolphin has prodigious significance in the aquatic environment, but these species are poorly known. Due to the anthropogenic impacts on the environment, these species are threatening to extinct and categorized as threatened as well.

The first human-caused extinction of a dolphin – lost Baiji, Lipotes vexillifer, a beautiful and unique creature that lived in China’s Yangtze River recently got extinct. International Freshwater Dolphin Day is also a gentle reminder for human beings to become more responsible for all their activities that are adversely damaging the aquatic ecosystem and be generous towards other living creatures.

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Etamoni Chakma

Hi, I'm Etamoni Chakma, an environmental science professional and top-rated academic writer on Upwork. With my education and research experience, I aim to create informative and inspiring content advocating for environmental protection. My passion is to educate and encourage people to take action for the betterment of our planet.

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