Near-extinct Irrawaddy dolphin drowns entangled in fishing net

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A rare and endangered dolphin has been found dead after apparently getting tangled in a fishing net and drowning.

The female Irrawaddy dolphin was found in the water on Tuesday this week by a fisherman in Camarines Sur province in the Philippines.

Nonie Enolva, spokeswoman for the Bicol Region Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in the Philippines, told Philippine news outlet Inquirer.net that the dolphin died due to drowning with the fishing net preventing it from swimming. reach the surface to breathe.

The loss of a single Irrawaddy dolphin may be cause for concern for conservationists. The species in general is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), although some regional populations are considered critically endangered.

A file photo shows an Irrawaddy dolphin floating in the water. Dolphins are considered endangered, with some populations numbering fewer than 100 individuals.
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In the Mekong, for example, fewer than 100 individuals are thought to remain.

The Irrawaddy dolphin species is restricted to coastal areas of South and Southeast Asia as well as three rivers in this region, including the Mekong.

Despite their rarity, Irrawaddy dolphins are well known to tourists due to their distinctive appearance. The species resembles a baby beluga, with a rounded face and the lack of a beak that other dolphin species tend to have. They also have movable lips and the ability to move their heads in all directions, giving them expressive faces.

Another part of the appeal of this rare dolphin species is that individuals tend to form close associations with fishing boats, making them easy to spot in parts of Southeast Asia where they are considered a tourist attraction.

For some human populations, the dolphin is considered sacred, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

However, they also face many threats: capture for captivity, environmental pollution, and entanglement in fishing nets have all played a role in the decimation of this dolphin’s population.

Earlier this year, a particular population of Irrawaddy dolphins in northeast Cambodia became extinct after its last member was caught in fishing gear and died.

Following the discovery of the newest dead Irrawaddy dolphin in the Philippines on Tuesday, its carcass was transported to a marine laboratory at the University of the Philippines Institute of Environmental Sciences and Meteorology.

There he will undergo an autopsy.

“This is new evidence that we have this species in the Bicol area and a possible indication that it has been around for a long time but we cannot see it,” Enolva told Inquirer.net. “In Southeast Asia, there are less than 100 [known individuals in the] population.”

The spokesperson added that fishermen and women who encounter an Irrawaddy dolphin in distress may sacrifice their fishing nets to help it.

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