Ongoing deaths of Irrawaddy dolphins bring fears of extinction


SONGKHLA, 21 August 2014  – A continuous spate of dead Irrawaddy dolphins in Songkhla Lake has created concerns among scientists that the distinctive creature could be heading towards extinction. 

In recent years Irrawaddy dolphins continued to be found dead even though the number dying has slowed somewhat compared to past years. Mr. Pongsak Kreaukeaw, a fisherman in the area said that yesterday, when he went out fishing, he found a dead 20-year-old Irrawaddy dolphin measuring 2.1 meters in length and weighing some 80 kilograms floating in the lake. He urgently notified the Irrawaddy dolphin preservation group in Ban-Laem-Hat area and the group immediately reported the death to the Marine and Coastal Resources Research Center, Lower Gulf of Thailand, which came to pick up the dolphin for an investigation of the cause of death.

In the initial investigation, it was found that the female dolphin had died five days ago, and was already starting to decay. No indication of it having been caught in a fisherman’s net was found. The researchers have now put the body of the dolphin into an ice tank to be sent to a specialist for closer inspection in Bangkok.

Furthermore, Mr. Santi Nilawat, a fishing specialist from the Marine and Coastal Resources Research Center, Lower Gulf of Thailand detailed the recent plight of Irrawaddy dolphins in Songkhla Lake. In 2013 there were 7 deaths of Irrawaddy dolphins, while this year, 5 of the dolphins have already been found dead. The previous instance was a dolphin that was found dead on 27th July 2014.

Statistically, the number of Irrawaddy dolphin deaths in the lake is reducing; in 2010 a total of 13 were found dead, in 2011, 10 were found dead, 2012 14 died, while in 2013 7 died, and this year so far 5 have been found dead. The reason for this latest fatality is still unknown.