Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rare Asian dolphin threatened by human activities

15.01.2003


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:
http://www.wcs.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Minimized water consumption in CSP plants - EU project MinWaterCSP is making good progress
05.12.2017 | Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum

nachricht Jena Experiment: Loss of species destroys ecosystems
28.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

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: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>