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Dolphin Species: Indus river dolphin
Platanista minor

As with most river dolphins, this species is highly endangered.

Indus river dolphins look identical to Ganges river dolphins.

They inhabit the Indus river and tributaries.

Indus river dolphins feed on small fish and crustaceans.

They live singly or in pairs.

Life span

Indus river dolphins have a body length of 1.5-2.5m and weigh 70-90kg.

Conservation status
Indus river dolphins are classified as Endangered by the 2000 Red Data List, and there are only about 400 left. They are probably one of the top ten most endangered mammals.

Ganges river dolphins are almost identical to Indus river dolphins but are separated from them by land. They have some internal differences to the Indus river dolphin, but look the same on the outside and have similar habits. They are the only cetaceans that don't have a crystalline eye lens, which means that they are blind! So, to get around, they use their well-developed echolocation system. It is so murky in the water where they live, that good eyesight would be pretty useless anyway! Their most striking feature is a long beak which thickens towards the end. They don't have any patches of colour on their stocky bodies but the colour of the animals can range from greyish-blue, to blue or even chocolate brown. They have round bellies.

The Ganges river dolphin ranges from 2.3 to 2.6 meters in length. The tail fluke is on average 46cm in width. Females are larger than males. The rostrum is 18 to 21cm in length and the forehead is steep and rises abruptly from the base of the snout. The dorsal fin is rudimentary and ridge-like, and the ends of the pectoral fins are squared instead of tapered. The neck is visibly constricted and the blowhole is a longitudinal slit. There are 28 to 29 teeth on either side of the jaw. The eye and optic nerve of the Ganges river dolphin are degenerate. The eye lacks a lens and is therefore incapable of forming images on the retina. However, it functions in light-detection. It is believed that the lack of a true visual apparatus in the river dolphin is related to its habitat; the water in which it lives is so muddied that vision in essentially useless.

The Ganges River Dolphin is an endemic species of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna river systems, extending from the foot of the Himalayas to the tidal zone in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, and is an extremely docile and graceful creature.

Commonly known as susu the Ganges River Dolphin are among the four freshwater dolphin found in the world - the other three are the baiji found in the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the buto of the river Amazon in Latin America.


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