Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blind Dolphins of the Indus

We often see Dolphins dancing and jumping near the ships in the movies, and in Titanic too. The look full of life, friendly, jovial and extremely sporty. May be because they can see. But there is species of the Dolphins that cannot see – they are virtually blind and unlike the seas, they are found in the Indus River in Pakistan. In local language it is called “Susu.” 

These  unique mammals have a long beak, a small low hump, and wide flippers, weighing 70-90 kilograms. They are generally grey-brown in colour, sometimes with a pinkish belly, and measure between 1.5 and 2.5m in length. They breathe through their blowholes with a loud sound that sounds like a sneeze, and can be heard from quite far away. Why they are called blind? Well they have eyes without lenses. Instead, they have sound imaging skills called echolocation, which is a very sophisticated sonar system that helps them swim through the muddy rivers. They swim on one side underwater, and keep close to the bottom of the riverbed, which helps them navigate and find food. 

Due to the water of the Indus River getting muddier as a result of water shortage, the species of Dolphin is having a hard time to survive and already their population is on the decline. Declared as an endangered species, it is feared that in few more years we may not see these blind and rare creatures alive. 

Once the blind Dolphins abound throughout 3,500 km of the Indus River system in Pakistan – that is from the Himalayan foothills to the mouth of the Indus, and in the main tributaries from the hills to their junction with the Indus. By the early 1970's its range had declined drastically to less than 700 km (430 mi) of river length. The majority of the remaining population lived between the Sukkur and Guddu barrages in Sind Province. This region continues to harbour the majority of the remaining population. Besides Sind Province, the Indus River dolphin also exists in Punjab Province, but it continues to decline. 

Presently, under a UN Development funded  programme, efforts are at hand to create awareness about the endangered blind dolphin through rafting expeditions and visiting riverside fishing communities.

Related Website: Indus Blind Dolphin
Video Courtesy: UNDP-Pakistan


Asghar Javed said...

What you think the new water transport system coming in lower part of Indus will do to these poor creatures.

Jalal HB said...

We only want to focus on one part and forget the others. The transportation department is separate so why would they care about the dolphins?

Shirazi said...

Ya, that is the irony.