Swimming through fresh waters in parts of South America and Asia is what one might consider an unexpected figure: the dolphin. It joins the ranks of the shark and the sea turtle as some of the oldest creatures on Earth. And while they're most commonly associated with oceans, dolphins—and porpoises—can actually be found in several major rivers on two continents.
WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report on the health of the ocean finds that the marine vertebrate population has declined by 49 percent between 1970 and 2012. The report tracks 5,829 populations of 1,234 mammal, bird, reptile, and fish species through a marine living planet index. The evidence, analyzed by researchers at the Zoological Society of London, paints a troubling picture.
Protecting the current population of the Yangtze finless porpoise in limited reserves is not enough. We need to restore wetlands, work with farmers and fishers, and help industrial parks improve their water efficiency and reduce pollution all along the Yangtze River.
There are fewer than 100 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River of Southeast Asia, and researchers fear the numbers are shrinking even further. But now the dolphins may have something to smile about. In September local government agencies in Cambodia agreed to work with WWF to conserve dolphins and minimize or eliminate deaths from gillnets.