Update on conservation of the critically endangered Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphins

The CSG has provided technical support to efforts to save the Mekong River’s critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins – only about 85 remain in Cambodia and Laos. There is some good news – with new protection and research efforts.

The entire current range of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Cambodian Mekong River was declared protected by the government last year – permanently prohibiting gillnet use in core areas. Generous funding through the Save Our Species fund will provide training and equipment to Cambodian Fisheries Officers and River Guards to protect dolphins from entanglement, which remains the leading cause of adult mortality.

High levels of calf mortality remain a major threat to this sub-population. In ongoing efforts to resolve the problem, remote biopsy work will be conducted by local conservationists in partnership with specialists from the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration: Lisa Ballance, Bob Pitman and Bob Brownell.

Efforts are also underway to better understand Mekong dolphin population dynamics using photo-identification work conducted by Dr Isabel Beasley from 2001 to 2005, and photo-ID data being collected on an ongoing basis by the Cambodian Fisheries Administration and WWF. The results of analyses of the long-term, combined dataset are expected to be out soon.

More information on these efforts can be found in our Special Projects section.

Southeast Asian Marine Mammal Symposium (SEAMAM III)

The Third Southeast Asian Marine Mammal Symposium (SEAMAM III) will be taking place in Langkawi Island, Malaysia, from 4 – 10 March 2013. The event will be co-hosted by the MareCet Research Organization along with the Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University Malaya. SEAMAM III will be a forum for consideration of issues related to the conservation and biology of coastal/inshore, estuarine and riverine marine mammals in Southeast Asia. It will bring together marine mammal researchers who are working in Southeast Asian countries and in the wider Indo-Pacific region to report on their results and plans, exchange information on research methods, and assist colleagues who are new to the field. The symposium’s goal is to ensure that the research being conducted is grounded in robust methods and designs and that the results lead to improved conservation of marine mammals in the region.

The conference will consist of a symposium for presentation of status reports on marine mammals in each country/region, followed by a series of workshops and discussion/training sessions. The workshops will be interdisciplinary, and include topics such as creation of marine protected areas, educational activities in local communities, economics and conservation in small-scale fisheries and marine mammal bycatch. Workshop leaders will be local scientists and other individuals with extensive experience working in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific.

SEAMAM III, like its predecessor conferences in the Philippines in 1995 and 2002, will be an important platform for capacity building and information exchange. It will also provide a benchmark to identify research and conservation needs and to address issues faced by local scientists in different countries in the region

The following reports produced from previous SEAMAMs may be found at:
SEAMAM I – 1995
SEAMAM II – 2005

New CSG Logo

The Cetacean Specialist Group now has a logo!  The logo was designed by  Barb Taylor and Gill Braulik.  It will be added to the website shortly, and in the future will be available to add to reports and publications etc.

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