The Irrawaddy dolphin is also regarded as a sacred animal by both Khmer and Lao people, and is an important source of income and jobs for communities involved in dolphin-watching ecotourism. Irrawaddy dolphins are primarily threatened by bycatch, the accidental capture of aquatic animals in fishing gear. WWF teaches local communities about dolphin and environmental conservation issues, as well as developing community fishery management zones to help sustainably manage fish and conserve dolphins. We also support alternative livelihood development such as aquaculture, chicken raising and home-gardens, to reduce fishing pressure and bycatch of dolphins, as well as alleviate poverty in riverside communities.
WWF conducts research to learn about dolphin mortality, population and ecology. Surveys are usually conducted in March to May when dolphins congregate around deep pool areas in the low water. WWF collaborates with The Coca-Cola Company and local residents to address impacts from climate change in the Mekong River Basin through habitat restoration, infrastructure improvements and influencing local policy.
Make a symbolic animal adoption to help save some of the world's most endangered animals from extinction and support WWF's conservation efforts. World Wildlife Fund 24th Street, N. Washington, DC Search Search w. Business Policy Partnerships Science. WWF Toggle Nav v k. Irrawaddy Dolphin. Adopt a Mekong Dolphin. EN Status Endangered. Greater Mekong. Freshwater dolphin species and facts Swimming through fresh waters in parts of South America and Asia is what one might consider an unexpected figure: the dolphin.
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Threats Extinction Risk Endangered. Basically in the early s there was a great renaissance or blossoming of describing of species all over the world. And it happened for whales as well as a ton of other taxa. And so you just got naturalists and scientists all over the world separately and individually describing all these species. Short-finned pilot whales actually had upwards of 20 different species descriptions and different scientific names for these species. I think it was then that the information about these two different morphological types got lost.
The whalers, as far as I know, kind of always had that information. But it was just a matter of getting it to the scientists and then the scientists publishing it. It was something that the scientific community learned a second time, basically. When you look at the pictures of them they look quite different. So it seems sort of intuitive that they should be split in that way. Is that being overly simplistic? You might end up with just tons and tons of different species.
We have two different sides and we call them the splitters and the lumpers.
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If in the wild, in their natural habitat, those two animals would not mate then we can call them different species. So we try to use sometimes a combination of morphology and genetics, and sometimes people look at other characteristics, like mating behaviors or feeding behaviors, to show that the animals are different.
It usually ends up being a combination of multiple different data types to build a really strong argument. The only reason that surprised me is because I am human therefore I am kind of land-centric and I think of land as being this big important barrier to animals that are trying to travel around. What are the conservation implications of there being two subspecies of short-finned pilot whale? But if there are two different subspecies of short-finned pilot whale, then management bodies are going to look at each of those subspecies differently.
And that might change the way local populations are managed. In the United States we manage stocks of short-finned pilot whales in Hawaii, in the eastern Pacific off the coast of California and Oregon and Washington, and then in the Atlantic Ocean.
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In Hawaii the population estimate is in the neighborhood of 20, animals. So that seems to be a healthy population. In the California Current, on the other hand, the population estimate is somewhere around animals.
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The threats that they face are very local. In some areas there are hunts for pilot whales.
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Those are in Japan, the Faroe Islands, and then in some areas of the Caribbean. And there could be some hunts in the South Pacific as well. In the United States, with stocks that we manage, they can be caught in long-line fisheries. That happens off the coast of California and also off the coast of Hawaii. They seem to be sensitive to anthropogenic noise and navy sonar. Short-finned pilot whales are a species that tend to strand in these large groups.
If one animal in that group strands they all strand together. What does this all say about the state of our knowledge of whales? The ocean is vast and incredibly understudied. We think we know a lot more about it than we actually do.
And, you know, the more you look the more you find. Banner image: A short-finned pilot whale in the Canary Islands, Spain. Van Cise, A.
Molecular ecology. Mahaffy, S. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. For centuries, Japanese seafarers have noted two distinct types of pilot whale in their waters: One with a squarish head and dark body, the other a bit bigger with a round head and a light patch on its back. The two types have long been officially classified simply as forms of the same species, short-finned pilot whales Globicephala macrorhynchus , but a new genetic study finds that they are actually distinct subspecies.
The finding is just the latest shake-up of the cetacean family tree after the discoveries of new whale species in recent years.