Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fish out of water: Baby dolphin swims back home after rescue

The two-year-old Indus blind dolphin was rescued from the Nara Canal and released into the River Indus on Saturday. PHOTO: NAEEM GHOURI/EXPRESS
SUKKUR: After a tough fight for survival, a two-year-old male Indus blind dolphin made it back home.
The baby dolphin was rescued from the Nara Canal and released into the River Indus on Saturday.
A group of villagers living by the Nara Canal found the baby dolphin struggling in the shallow waters and immediately informed the wildlife department in
After chalking out the rescue plan, a team comprising deputy conservator Ghulam Mohammad Gadani, Blind Indus Dolphin field officer Mir Akhtar Talpur and others went to the RD-42 of the canal and rescued the calf in time.
After taking the dolphin out of the water, they attached a transmitter to its body and then released it in the deep waters of the Indus, near the Saath Sahelion ka mazaar landmark.
Gadani told The Express Tribune that the male baby dolphin was two years old, weighed about 22.5 kilograms and was approximately 3.5 feet long. “When the Sukkur Barrage was closed, the water level is decreased. That is when we believed the dolphin slipped away into the canal in search of food.”
Meanwhile, Talpur said that there are 810 Indus blind dolphins in the river from Guddu Barrage to Sukkur Barrage. Earlier, the number was bigger, but as some people, especially fishermen, killed these dolphins for meat and oil, the number of the smartest mammal was shrinking – and would have reached the brink of extinction.
However, after taking some preventive measures and creating awareness among the fishermen, its number is increasing, he assured.
He said that the Indus blind dolphin is a rare species that is sometimes killed by accident, for example when it gets entangled in a fishing net.
Referring to the annual closure of the Sukkur Barrage, Talpur said this is crucial time for the blind dolphin, because they often slip into the canals unnoticed. “However, we are vigilant and we are taking good care of the animal.”
The last count for dolphins was done in 2006 and the next one is due next month.

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