6,000 Rare Dolphins Found in South Asia

Researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society announced at the First International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas in Maui, Hawaii that nearly 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins, were found living in freshwater regions of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangrove forest and adjacent waters of the Bay of Bengal. This species has been listed as vulnerable in the Red List in 2008.

Each discovery of Irrawaddy dolphins is important because scientists do not know how many remain on the planet. Prior to this study, the largest known populations of Irrawaddy dolphins numbered in the low hundreds or less.

"This discovery gives us great hope that there is a future for Irrawaddy dolphins," said Brian D. Smith, lead author of a study describing the discovery. "Bangladesh clearly serves as an important sanctuary for Irrawaddy dolphins, and conservation in this region should be a top priority."

Despite finding this extraordinarily large population, the study’s authors warn that the dolphins are becoming increasingly threatened by accidental entanglement in fishing nets.