Most of us know that the Yangtze River Dolphin or Baiji went extinct last year, a victim of living in the watershed of 10% of the world’s human population.
And it’s hard to think that the world’s smallest dolphin, the Vaquita, isn’t next. Even though the 100-300 reproductive individuals left live within 100 miles of one of the highest concentration of marine biologists in the world (San Diego), WWF lists the Vaquita as the 2nd most endangered species in the world (behind the Javan Rhino).
But finally there’s some good news for coastal dolphins. A huge population of 6000 Irrawady River dolphins was surveyed last week in the Sundaban Islands, and they seem to be doing very well. Some coastal dolphin species are slaughtered by the thousands under the mistaken notion that they compete with fishermen (despite the best effort of that “Heroes” cheerleader Hayden Panettiere). But here, locals love their dolphins. They have fished cooperatively for centuries, dolphins scaring shoals of fish into nets on shore in one of the most remarkable instances of interspecies cooperative hunting in the world. (Goliath groupers and moray eels are the only marine-marine example recorded to date, check out the movies at the end of the article).