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Irrawaddy Dolphin

The Irrawaddy dolphins live in rivers and coastal regions of Southeast Asia. These marine mammals are endangered. Of the group that live in the Mekong River, only about 92 dolphins remain.

Fun Facts

  • Irrawaddy dolphins are small. They weigh between 198 to 440 pounds and grow 6 to 9 feet in length.
  • These dolphins stay close to coastlines and interact with humans and fishing boats. Tourists like to go out and see them. Their tendency to live near people makes them vulnerable to pollution and injuries from fishing nets.
  • Irrawaddy dolphins don’t have a long, slim nose like other dolphins. They have round heads and rounder bodies too.
  • Irrawaddy dolphins usually live in small groups of only 4 to 8 dolphins, although they sometimes live in larger groups. Females have babies every 3 to 4 years.
  • These animals eat a variety of fish, cephalopods, and fish eggs; they are bottom feeders. They sometimes have mud on their faces and backs from hunting in the muddy river bottom. They aren’t fast swimmers and they don’t do acrobats in the air like other dolphins.
  • They sometimes spit a stream of water, which is thought to help them catch fish. They sometimes slap fish to stun them.


  1. Marine mammal: a mammal, such as a whale or dolphin, that lives in the water
  2. Cephalopod: squid or octopus
  3. Bottom feeder: an aquatic animal that hunts for prey in the mud

Questions and Answers

Question: Do Irrawaddy dolphins communicate through sound like other dolphins?

Answer: Scientists don’t think they do, but Irrawaddy dolphins do something else special. They communicate with fishermen, herding fish into their nets. In return, fishermen give the dolphins some of their catch.

Learn More

Watch a video about the Striped dolphins.