Irrawaddy Dolphin Facts
- The truly fabulous, and also highly distinctive looking, Irrawaddy Dolphin, has an extremely disjointed population concentration.
- Sir Richard Owen first identified this fascinating mammal in 1866, yet it was believed to be a member of another species.
- Due to an extreme similarity in physical appearance, the two species were not recognized as separate and distinct until 2005.
- Because of its scattered population, scant numbers, and interactions with humans, the IUCN currently lists it as Endangered.
Irrawaddy Dolphin Physical Description
Unlike many mammals, the truly remarkable Irrawaddy Dolphin displays no noticeable signs of sexual dimorphism.
Furthermore, being relatively small for a dolphin, this amazing creature only attains an average length of about 7.5 ft (2.3 m).
In addition, its overall coloring consists of dark gray to dark blue above, and significantly paler on the underside, with no precise pattern.
Also, its flippers grow long and broad compared to related species, while its large head and melon display a decidedly non-prominent beak.
Finally, it has the distinction of being the only known variety of dolphin to possess a blowhole to the left of the midline, opening towards the head.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Delphinidae
- Genus: Orcaella
- Species: O. brevirostris
Irrawaddy Dolphin Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Above all, the extremely distinctive Irrawaddy Dolphin has an unusual distribution, given that it inhabits both salt water and fresh water.
Technically, it represents a sea dwelling species, but many individuals also inhabit freshwater regions, such as bays, estuaries, and even rivers.
Although it typically travels in small groups of 2-3 individuals, occasionally larger groups of up to 25 will group together to hunt.