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Thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins found along Bangladesh coast

Conservationists claim to have found thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins on the Bangladesh coast, but warn that the newly discovered population is under threat from climate change and fishing.

Researchers from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said they have found nearly 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins living in the freshwater regions of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangrove forest and nearby waters in the Bay of Bengal.

The largest known populations of Irrawaddy dolphins to date have numbered in the low hundreds or less – at least 125 in the Mekong river, 77 in the Malampaya Sound in the Philippines and up to 100 in the Mahakam River, Indonesia.

Until this new Bangladesh population was found, figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated the Sundarbans population to be around 450. WCS says it used rigorous scientific techniques in an area where little marine mammal research has taken place to document the new population.

“The number of animals could be higher – or lower,” said Howard Rosenbaum, the director of WCS’s ocean giants cetacean programme. “Our best estimate given the science is that there are 6,000. It sounds a lot but the Sundarbans cover a huge area. When you look at the areas that have been surveyed before the populations are low as they are in areas impacted by human development. But this area had never before been surveyed. We’re really excited and this finding gives us great hope but this species is still very vulnerable.”

This article is quoted from the Guardian.com article Thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins found along Bangladesh coasts, by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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