Irrawaddy Dolphins inhabit the coasts and rivers of northern
Australasia and southern Asia.
Sir Richard Owen first recognised this dolphin as a distinct
species in the 1860s from a skull. While John Gray gave it
the genus of Orcaella, Owen supplied the specific name, brevirostris
('short beak'). Although this species shows some characteristics
of the dolphins, it looks more akin to the Beluga.
Snubfin Dolphin; Pesut; Pesut Mahakam; Lumbalumba.
The Irrawaddy Dolphin has a small, slightly curved dorsal
fin and a tapered body. It has long flippers and its blowhole
is set slightly to the left. The body colour is dark grey
above, light grey below. There is no beak and the face can
easily change expression. Like the Beluga, the head can move
freely due to the fact that only two vertebrae are fused.
The upper jaw has 17-20 pairs of teeth, the lower jaw, 15-18
pairs. Body length is between 2.15-2.75m, and weight is between
The Irrawaddy Dolphin is slow-swimming and inconspicuous,
likely to be confused only with the dugong or Finless Porpoise.
In both cases, the fact that the Irrawaddy Dolphin has a dorsal
fin should be enough for positive recognition.
Irrawaddy Dolphins prefer warm, shallow coastal waters. Some
have been found to inhabit freshwater rivers as far as 1300km
from the sea.
Irrawaddy Dolphins seem to take fish dwelling in midwater
and on the seabed. Squid and crustaceans may also be taken.
The typical family unit contains up to 6 individuals, but
occasionally can number around 15. Irrawaddy Dolphins have
been spotted leaping, spyhopping and tail slapping. Only one
mass stranding of three animals has been reported. They can
be quite tame, and take well to captivity.
Approximately 30 years.
Unknown, but considered 'locally common'.
Irrawaddy Dolphins, because of their habitat, come into contact
with man regularly. They are killed for food in a small area,
but in northern Australia they often become entrapped in fishing
nets. They are deemed as sacred by fishermen in Vietnam and