Thursday, April 02, 2009

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins in Sarawak

The wet season is now pretty much over and the dolphin watching season has begun. Whilst the most commonly sighted species found near Kuching is the Irrawaddy dolphin there seem to be more and more sightings of finless porpoises. I guess this has something to do with the fact there are more boats going out dolphin watching and more people are aware that dolphins are found near Kuching.

Another species that is occasionally spotted in the waters near Kuching is the Indo-pacific humpback dolphin. I haven’t had much luck with this species over the years and have only spotted them a couple of times near Santubong but they were way off in the distance. Others have had better luck. James, who spends most of his time exploring caves in Bau and Serian and running his Kuching Caving tour outfit, took the above photo last year. And James’ friend George has posted some excellent photos of Indo-pacific humpback dolphins taken at both Bako and Santubong on his website.

Sarawak Dolphin Project Website

The Sarawak Dolphin Project now has a website at

The research project was launched in May 2008 and has three main survey areas - Kuching, Miri and Similajau. Up to November 2008, 21 days of boat surveys and 1,945 kms had been covered with 56 dolphin sightings. If you want to know what has been done and what is planned, download the half yearly report from the website. It provides some useful information about the project activities, including sightings and survey areas

6,000 Irrawaddy Dolphins Discovered in Bangladesh

A couple of years ago I blogged about the low numbers of Irrawaddy dolphins found at locations around the region, 77 in the Malampaya Sound, 70 in the Mahakam River, less than 50 in Songkla Lake, etc. Depressing reading. Well, now for some good news. Researchers at WCS have ‘found’ 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins living in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh. Previously it was believed that the population was around 450. The new population estimate is based on the results of recent surveys and research in the mangrove regions of the Sundarbans and nearby waters in the Bay of Bengal.

UK Guardian reports on it here. Instead of the usual doom and gloom environmental news it’s nice to read some happy news and some encouraging quotes and positive vibes from the conservationists involved. Mind you I had to laugh at one quote from the director of science for the WDCS - “to find 6,000 isn’t huge – but it’s significant”. Come on, finding 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins is a huge deal.