Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Rare Asian dolphin threatened by human activities


A rare dolphin species known for assisting fishermen by driving fish into their nets may soon disappear from the great Asian river for which the animals are named. According to a recent scientific survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and its partners, the Irrawaddy dolphin may vanish from the Ayeyarwady River (formerly Irrawaddy) without efforts to protect these aquatic mammals from human activities along the river.

A research team with members from WCS, WDCS (the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society), the Myanmar Departments of Fisheries and Forests, and Yangon University estimate that only a few tens of dolphins remain within the river. "The range of this dolphin has dramatically declined over the past century," said WCS researcher Brian Smith. "The decline in their range and the low numbers observed indicate that this population is critically threatened." Irawaddy dolphins, which bear a resemblance to the more familiar beluga whale, are beloved by fishermen for their habit of working cooperatively to drive fish into range of throw nets. Smith is hopeful that the dolphin’s popularity and value to fishermen as a living resource will facilitate a site-based conservation program that would work to eliminate threats and promote cultural traditions that would benefit the dolphins.

"Local throw-net fishermen along the river have great affection for the dolphins, so I believe there would be good local support for a site-based conservation program," said Smith. "A protected area could also preserve both the dolphins and the traditional fishing practice of cooperating with the dolphins."

During the recent 27-day survey of the entire length of the Ayeyarwady, researchers recorded only nine sightings of this rare dolphin, compared with 14 sightings from a 1998 survey along the same portion of river. The researchers failed to observe dolphins below Mandalay and the delta, leading them to believe that the upper Ayeyarwady population is separate from coastal populations. The species’ full range includes the coasts and rivers of southern Asia and Australasia; the most threatened populations of Irrawaddy dolphins are the freshwater lake and river populations.

The researchers also recorded numerous gill nets--dangerous to dolphins--in areas previously known to be prime dolphin habitat. The illegal activity of electric fishing, which uses high voltage to kill all organisms within its range and is conducted under the cover of night, is another threat to the dolphins. Extensive gold-mining operations pose an enormous threat to both dolphins and humans, due to the use of mercury to amalgamate the gold. Mercury can have detrimental effects on living organisms, accumulating in predators on top of the food chain.

Smith expects the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list the Ayeyarwady population as critically endangered in the near future.

Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First-time reconstruction of infectious bat influenza viruses

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Amazon rain helps make more rain

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>