AN Ayeyarwady dolphin found trapped in Maezar Creek in Sagaing
division was returned to the Ayeyarwady River by authorities and
local villagers last week.
“Three dolphins swam up into the creek but only two were
able to swim out again, leaving one trapped,” said U Khin
Maung Aye, the director general of the Department of Fisheries
(DOF). “The trapped animal was an adult female and we think
she might have been looking for a spawning ground.”
He said the dolphin was trapped in a section of the creek measuring
about 80 feet by 300 feet.
DOF officials, local authorities and villagers all contributed
to the effort to rescue the dolphin, which involved spreading
plastic sheeting in the back of a truck and creating a pool by
filling it with water from two fire engines. The dolphin was placed
in the pool and then driven back to the river.
“The local villagers were eager to save the dolphin because
they love them. And on the drive to the river, people along the
way were waiting to see the dolphin,” U Khin Maung Aye said.
He said that when the truck reached the bank of the Ayeyarwady
and the animal was about to be released, seven other dolphins
were waiting in the river.
“It was a very strange scene because the other dolphins
seemed to know the female was coming back. They jumped around
in the water as if they were welcoming her home,” he said.
He said the DOF took advantage of the rescue operation to teach
locals about the endangered dolphins and the importance of protecting
them from harm.
The latest survey by the department, conducted in 2004, counted
72 Ayeyarwady dolphins left in the river.
In December 2005 the department had designated a 72-kilometre
protected area for the dolphins along the Ayeyarwady River extending
from the town of Mingun north to the town of Kyaukmyaung.
The protected area was intended to help reduce the incidence
of accidental dolphin deaths from entanglement in fishing nets,
the main threat to the species.
The dolphins are known for having a cooperative relationship
with local fisherman in which the fishermen attract the dolphins
by tapping the sides of their boats with their oars. The dolphins
then swim around the boat herding the fish into nets in return
for part of the catch.