24th October is Freshwater Dolphin Day!

The 24th October is International Freshwater Dolphin Day. Declared at the “Workshop on Establishing Protected Areas for Freshwater Cetaceans” in East Kalimantan, Indonesia in October 2009, International Freshwater Dolphin Day will be celebrated by many events across the world.

In India, Ganges River dolphin awareness rallies will be held in villages.  Activities will include a boat safari to visit the dolphins, media press release, street theater, poster and drawing competitions, and informational lectures on the dolphins and the rivers they inhabit.

Along the Mahakam River in Indonesia, home to a critically endangered population of Irrawaddy dolphins, school education campaigns will be held to celebrate Freshwater Dolphin Day.  The day will also be marked by finalizing the management plan for a river dolphin Protected Area in West Kutai District, and it is hoped that an official community agreement will be reached for establishment of a second dolphin Protected Area in Central Kutai.  A National Conservation Strategy Action Plan for Mahakam dolphins from 2010-2020 has been developed under assignment of the General Directorate Conservation of Nature Department, Forestry Department.

In Bangladesh International Freshwater Dolphin Day is being marked with a month-long celebration. During the first week of October, the Bangladesh Forest Department approved the boundaries for three new wildlife sanctuaries for Ganges and Irrawaddy dolphins in the Eastern Sundarbans mangrove forest and forwarded the notification document to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for final approval. All three Wildlife Sanctuaries are based on recommendations from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project (BCDP), which has been working on freshwater dolphin conservation in the Sundarbans since 2002.  The BCDP also convened a one-day training course on freshwater dolphin survey techniques for a team of 18 local and international scientists and university students. This was followed by a survey of dolphins in the Sundarbans mangrove forest. October also saw the initiation of an exciting new project, led by Nadia Richman of the Zoological Society of London, to study Ganges dolphins in the Karnaphuli-Sangu river system of southeastern Bangladesh.

For more details on these and other activities being held to celebrate Freshwater Dolphin Day, and also for information on research and conservation of the world’s freshwater dolphins, check the following website: http://www.freshwater-cetaceans.co.cc

6 Western Gray whales satellite tracked

This summer 6 western gray whales, one male and five females, were tagged with satellite tags off Sakhalin, Russia and their movements are now being monitored.  One tag was not well attached and has fallen off, at present there are still tags on 5 animals.  The whales are all in the Sakhalin area, three in the offshore feeding ground and two nearshore.

During the tagging efforts this summer, Flex (the whale tagged in 2010) was seen on several occasions.  He appeared to be in good body condition and, while scarred, the tag area has healed.

For more information and regular updates on the location of the tagged whales visit: http://mmi.oregonstate.edu/Sakhalin2011

Fiordland bottlenose dolphin population redlisted as Critically Endangered

The Fiordland subpopulation of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabits the fiords and bays of Fiordland, a mountainous, rainforest-covered World Heritage Area in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island.  These dolphins are at the southern limit of the species’ global range and recent studies have shown them to be genetically and geographically isolated from bottlenose dolphins elsewhere in New Zealand.

The subpopulation was estimated to consist of only205 individuals in 2008, of which 123 were mature. In a Population Viability Analysis, more than two thirds of the model runs predicted a decline of > 25% over one generation and more than a third predicted a decline of > 80% over three generations.  As a result, the Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphin subpopulation was assessed as Critically Endangered (A3bcd;C1).  For the full assessment, which was completed in 2010, see http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/194300/0

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