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Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 10051138

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 10051138) - Irrawaddy dolphin - Awarded $10,000 on December 31, 2010

  Very little is known about the Irrawaddy dolphin, Orcaella brevirostris, despite that fact that it is one of the most vulnerable marine mammal species. Because it often occurs as small populations in coastal areas heavily used by humans in the region that is highly populated (the Indo-Pacific region), it has suffered tremendous losses.  Until recently, the Malampaya Sound population in Palawan, declared by IUCN as Critically Endangered, was the only population known in Philippine waters.  In 2005 an Irrawaddy dolphin was accidentally caught in a gillnet in southern Panay, about 300 km from Palawan.  An initial field investigation in 2007 confirmed the presence of a population in the Visayas.  The distribution of this second population was first believed to be limited only to Iloilo Strait on the coastal waters of southern Panay and northeastern Guimaras.  Further investigations done in 2010 and 2011 showed that their range extends to the coast of the nearby island of Negros, some 35-45 km away.  The same individuals photo-identified in Iloilo Strait were seen on the Negros coast.  This project aims to estimate population size of the dolphins in the area using the Mark – Recapture method, as well as investigate other remnant populations that maybe present in nearby and distant localities.  Information on historical distribution of the species is also being gathered. Threats to the continued existence of this population is being assessed, and conservation and protection is being promoted in collaboration with the local government units and NGO’s. Because of its iconic status, the Irrawaddy dolphin is hoped to serve as an "umbrella" species to help establish protected areas in coastal and estuarine environments.

Project 10051138 location - Philippines, Asia