Indus River Dolphin

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Indus River Dolphin

The Indus River dolphin is a species which only lives in the rivers of India and Pakistan. From the 1970s up until 1998, the Indus River dolphin and the Ganges River dolphin were classified as different and separate species, but in 1998 they were declared to be two different subspecies of the same overall species.

The Indus River dolphin is a freshwater dolphin and cannot survive in marine environments. It needs the water in the river to have at least 1 meter’s depth to be able to survive and so is fairly often found in tributaries.The Indus River dolphin has a long, pointed beak just like all river dolphins. When the dolphins are young, their curved teeth can be over an inch long, but as they get older these are reduced to flatter, bony discs. Their eyes are not at all well-developed making the species almost blind. It is thought that they can detect changes in brightness and direction of light but can see little else. Instead, they rely on a heightened sense of echo-location to be able to navigate and avoid obstacles.

Indus River dolphins are brown in color and have a small lump in the center of their backs, rather than a fully developed dorsal fin. They are between 7 and 8 feet in length which makes them fairly average-sized for a dolphin. It was the first dolphin to be discovered swimming on its side.

The gestation period is one of the shortest of all dolphins at just 9 months. Calves are regularly seen between January and May but do not seem to be born outside of these months. Young Indus River dolphins will only stay with their mothers for the first few months of their lives before they swim off to find or form their own pod.

The Indus River dolphin is confined to the 3400 km of the Indus river system and is not found anywhere outside this area. It used to be found all across this river system but today can only be found in a fifth of the places where it used to live. Since 1870, the range of the habitat of this species of dolphin has been reduced by 80% and now only lives in an area of the river system totaling a distance of 690km.

Indus River Dolphins are classed as endangered due to their continued decline in numbers over the last century and a half. The increased levels of traffic on the main waterways of the Indus River system and the increased fishing activity have led to more and more dolphin deaths and a severely reduced life expectancy. The oldest ever recorded Indus River Dolphin was just 28 years old.

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Indus River Dolphin


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