The government of Myanmar has established a protected area for, of all things, a partnership between fishermen and a small, gray beakless dolphin with a knack for herding fish into nets, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Specifically, some 70 kilometers of the Ayeyarwady River have been protected to safeguard the cooperative fishery. It also supports one third of the river's population of Irrawaddy dolphins, a species that is threatened throughout much of its coastal and freshwater range.
"This is a big step forward toward saving this cetacean in the Ayeyarwady River and the fishery that benefits both humans and dolphins," said WCS researcher Brian D. Smith, who has conducted research on the species in the region for several years. "Balancing the protection of a critically endangered wildlife population with local livelihoods and preservation of a unique cultural tradition is a win-win situation for all."
The fascinating partnership involves fishermen summoning the dolphins to voluntarily herd schools of fish toward the boats and awaiting nets. With the aid of the river-dwelling dolphins, the fishermen can increase the size of their catches by threefold, and the dolphins appear to benefit by more easily preying on the cornered fish in both nets and on the muddy banks of the river.
The Irrawaddy dolphin grows to some 2 to 2.5 meters in length (6.5 to 8 feet) and frequents the coasts, estuaries, and freshwater lagoons of Southeast Asia. It is threatened throughout its range by incidental catches and in several areas by habitat degradation.
The dolphin population in the Ayeyarwady River is one of the most threatened, specifically by electrocution from illegal electric fishing and entanglement in gill nets, and from mercury poisoning and habitat loss from gold mining operations in the river. Recent surveys of the river conducted by the Department of Fisheries and WCS found that the species range had declined by some 60 percent, and that only 59 to 72 individuals remained in a region some 1000 kilometers from the sea. In response to these findings, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) designated the population as "critically endangered."
The new protected area will boost awareness about the Irrawaddy dolphin and its unique role in the river's livelihoods, as well as enforce the prohibition of electric fishing, gold mining, and other threats, and initiate a systematic monitoring program for the species. Another positive development is a recent ban on gold mining in the Ayeyarwady and a recent survey conducted by WCS and the Myanmar Department of Fisheries found that the ban had been 100% effective on eliminating this threat from the river.
"If the protected area proves successful at conserving dolphins and enhancing the livelihoods of local fishermen, it could be used as a model for extending similar protection to other river segments," added U Mya Than Tun, Senior Scientist with the Myanmar Department of Fisheries.
John Delaney | EurekAlert!
Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta
Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences