Dolphins are known to be friendly and highly intelligent animals with the distinguishing feature of a permanent "smile." Although they live in water and swim like a fish, dolphins are not fish; rather, they are mammals.
There are more than 30 dolphin species, and they belong to an aquatic mammal classification called the cetacean. The cetaceans also include whales and porpoises.
Dolphins live in oceans and brackish waters, while others are found in freshwater and rivers.
According to the IUCN, there are five endangered dolphin species. They include:
● The Atlantic Humpback Dolphin
These dolphin species live in coastal and estuarine areas of West Africa. Unlike other species, they are quite shy and do not perform aerial displays. They move in groups of 2 to as many as 40 animals. Their decline is attributed to accidental capture, loss of habitat, ocean pollution, climate change, and overfishing.
● Amazon River Dolphin
These river dolphins are the largest of all the dolphin species and can weigh as much as 185 kg and grow as long as 8 ft in length. They have a pinkish skin color and are commonly called the "pink river dolphin." The loss of this species is majorly due to hunting, habitat loss, and bycatch during fishing.
● Maui Dolphin
They are the smallest of the dolphin species, with a max length and weight of 1.7 m and a weight of 50 kg, respectively. They live on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Maui dolphins display good social behaviors and can be easily seen playing with their peers. However, threats like fishing, oil spillage, climate change, and toxoplasmosis, a type of parasitic disease, contribute to the endangerment of the species.
● Baiji Dolphin
This species is popularly called the "Chinese river dolphin," this species has not been seen in the last 20 years and is considered critically endangered or possibly extinct. The decline in the Baiji dolphin species is attributed to Chinese industrialization in fishing, involving the use of electric fishing methods. Other factors included accidental collisions with boats and pollution.
● South Asian River Dolphin
These river dolphins are native to the freshwater habitats found in Northern Asia. Although these species were thought to be a single species, they are now divided into two subspecies—the Indus river dolphins and the Ganges river dolphins, with both considered endangered.
How Can You Help Save the Endangered Dolphin Species?
- Consider volunteering for a marine life conservation program.
- You can donate to marine wildlife foundations.
- Support organizations that work to save and preserve endangered dolphin species like the Marine Life Mission.
- The bycatch of dolphins can be reduced or eliminated by using sustainable fishing methods and tools that prevent accidental capture of dolphins.
- Avoid polluting the ocean with plastics and take action against marine pollution by volunteering in beach cleaning programs.
Learning about the different endangered dolphin species is good, but taking action is the next best thing to do. Learn how you can partner with the Marine Life Mission to promote marine life conservation.