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Home >> Wild Animals in India >> Ganges River Dolphin

Ganges River Dolphin

The Ganges River Dolphin or Gangetic Dolphin is a freshwater dolphin that is found primarily in the River Ganges. Known to fishermen for centuries and the subject of myth and legend, the Ganges River Dolphin is an endangered species.

Zoological name

Platanista gangetica

Range

The Ganges River Dolphin can be seen in several rivers of South Asia. There are two subspecies of the Ganges River Dolphin - one which is found in the Indus River and the other is found in river systems of North India, Nepal and Bangladesh. It can be seen in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna in India, the Karnali River in Nepal and the Karnaphuli and Sangu Rivers in Bangladesh.

Estimated population
It is estimated that there are around 2000 Ganges River Dolphins in the rivers of the Indian Subcontinent.

Physical characteristics

The Ganges River Dolphin grows to a length of 5 to 8 feet and can weigh up to 90 Kg. It has a long snout, big flippers and a stocky but streamlined body. It was believed to be blind, and reliant purely on echolocation, however its eyes have been found to provide some vision. The Ganges River Dolphin is a good swimmer and maneuvers its way through the murky water with its tail and flippers.

Habitat
The Ganges River Dolphin is found in fresh water in rivers across the Indian subcontinent. It prefers to swim in deeper waters. During times of flood the Ganges River Dolphin is also seen in seasonal channels and flood plains. It prefers to stay in water with a temperature between 8 and 33 deg Celcius.

Diet
The Ganges River Dolphin eats various species of fish, frogs, amphibians and other invertebrates and possibly turtles and young water birds. Fish is the main part of its diet and the Ganges River Dolphin spends much of its time feeding near the riverbed. It uses echolocation to find its prey and also uses its flippers and snout to locate something edible in the muddy riverbed.

Behavior
Ganges River Dolphins were seen in large groups during the early 20th century. However in recent times they are usually seen in groups of 1-3 individuals and are the most common sightings are that of solitary dolphins. They can be seen in larger numbers at the confluence of rivers, near human habitation and ferry crossings as well as in areas where the water is placid and slow moving.

Status
Ganges River Dolphins are an endangered species. The Dolphins are killed for their meat and oil and are threatened by the destruction of their habitat. The pollution of the Ganges River and the creation of barrages along the rivers course have led to the decline of Ganges River Dolphin's population.


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