What kind of animal is the river dolphin? An explanation of its characteristics, ecology, and habitat


What kind of animal is the River Dolphin? We will explain its characteristics, ecology, and habitat. It is a Southeast Asian dolphin, and some can be seen in northern Australia, so its habitat is very wide, but it is actually designated as an endangered species. Let’s take a closer look at the details.

What is a River Dolphin? Basic Stats

The Irrawaddy Dolphin is a marine mammal that belongs to the genus Orcaella, family Delphinidae, suborder Odontoceti, order Cetacea. Its English name is 河巨頭, and its scientific name is Orcaella brevirostris. The list of information is as follows. Its total length is over 2m and its weight exceeds 100kg.

English(英名)Irrawaddy Dolphin
scientific name(学名)Orcaella brevirostris
classification(分類)Mammalia、Odontoceti、 Delphinidae、Orcaella


River whales were recognized in 1866 when they were reported as a new species by Richard Owen. Genetically, they are closer to killer whales than to dolphins. The Australian river whale is found in Australia and is becoming recognized as a separate species.


They are found in Southeast Asia (India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines) and northern Australia. River whales can also be found in the Mekong River and Ayeyarwady River.

What are its characteristics? What is it like?

The river whale has no beak and looks similar to a finless porpoise or a beluga whale. Its entire body is brown with a lighter color underside. Its lips are flexible and it can blow water out of its mouth. It inhabits the warm coastal waters and rivers from the Bay of Bengal to northern Australia. It swims by rotating as it rises and only raises its tail above the water when it dives.

What is its personality like?

The river whale, like other dolphins, has a very gentle and calm personality.

What is its ecology like?

The river whale mainly eats squid and fish. It lives by eating creatures that live on the bottom of the water. Its lifespan is about 30 years.

Do they have any natural enemies?

Sharks are the biggest threat to the river whale.

Are River Dolphins Endangered?

River dolphins are designated as an endangered species. Their population is declining due to humans, with the biggest threat being capture for the purpose of catching oil. Decreasing population and shrinking habitat are major issues, and habitat fragmentation has also occurred. In the early 2000s, the number of individuals dropped dramatically to just around 50, and complete extinction was feared. However, conservation efforts are progressing, and the population is beginning to increase.

Can River Dolphins be kept as pets?

River dolphins are an endangered species and cannot be kept by the general public. We recommend viewing them at an aquarium or other venue and being guided through events. You can see them at dolphin shows.


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