The Freshwater Trail

How Dolphins Die The Bangladeshi Sundarbans are home to six types of dolphins; the Irrawaddy and Gangetic being the two main riverine species. Increasingly, however, these dolphins are falling prey to fishing nets

Arati Kumar-Rao
Photographer & Journalist

follow url I lay back on my bed in the cabin listening to the calls outside. A hawker, the attendant, a little boy who plied tea and coffee to the cabins, the distant boom of a passing barge, thumping footsteps above, a crash of something on the shared wall to the left.

source I thought of the river, my trip thus far, and a daisy chain of memories began to unravel.

Buy Xanax Pfizer Online I thought of a dolphin spotted on the Turag – quite possibly the largest I’d ever seen. The Turag, filthy, choked with effluents, thick with sewage, crowded with hyacinth, the color of weak tea, was asphyxiating. And yet, research told me, it was thick with fish too — and dolphins. I’d heard dolphins were extremely sensitive to pollution. To sounds. To chemicals. And yet …? They were likely extremely adaptable, resilient creatures. Survivors.

enter site As the sun began to dip over the launch parked next to mine, another dolphin crept into my mind. On another river, over to the SouthWest of Dhaka, we’d been calling out to every hilsa fishing boat we encountered: “Any fish? How many you got?”

go Usually the answer was a shake of the head, a moan that floated over the waters: “No, no fish. there are no fish in the river.”

go to link But one time the answer was “shushu.” Dolphin. Caught in a net not cast for it.


follow link This is one way that dolphins die – especially young ones. Either they go to feed on fish caught in nets or, worse, they get trapped in nets strung across the width of a river. It’s their teeth: A fine white neat parabolic curve of sharp clean teeth that the net weaves itself in and out of, and snaps the snout shut.

follow Adult dolphins are strong enough to cut through the net, babies like this one — not 8 months old yet, can do nothing. Unable to come up to breathe (dolphins are mammals and break the surface in graceful arcs to take in lungsful of air) they thrash wildly in the water, often entangling themselves further. Eventually, they suffocate and perish. Adult dolphins are strong enough to cut through the net, babies like this one — not 8 months old yet, can do nothing.

follow site It had not been an easy day, that day. Not two hours prior, I had watched as seven Gangetic dolphins had frolicked in a cove. And then, this.

follow url I remembered it in vivid detail as I lay on this cool white bed. My companion in Bangladesh, Caesar, is a herpetologist. He was lounging on the other bed in this cabin now, squinting at his phone.

go It was Caesar who had jumped on to the fisherman’s boat and carried the baby dolphin aboard the GolPatta – the dolphin research vessel we were on.

here I remember touching the lifeless cetacean. It had felt smooth, almost like the flipper-rubber of a scuba diver. Smooth and cold with white chalk like gashes on its back and fins – scars from fighting the net. Its eyes – they were so very small. These dolphins are near-blind, using echolocation to sense their surroundings in these silt laden murky soupy rivers. But even so, I remembered being astonished at the size of tiny clouded little opening. It seemed a cruel irony that what the net was cast for, was not what it snared. The fishermen were going home empty and hungry, their debts deepening with every net devoid of fish.

source url Somewhere a mother dolphin was swimming alone tonight.

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Whichever side of the net you were on, you lost.

A courting pair of Irrawaddy Dolphins in the Dhangmari Dolphin sanctuary of the Sundarbans

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