Friday, 24 September, 2021

Trapped in nets, Dolphins are dying

Seeing dead dolphin on the shore becomes a regular incident in coastal area of our country. Every two days in a week people find one or more dead dolphins lying ashore in the coastal area of Kuakata sea beach and the Sundarbans coast.

On Saturday noon (August 21st), a 7-foot-long dead Irrawaddy dolphin floated again near the Kuakata beach block point. Three dead dolphins washed ashore in just few hours in the day. Such incidents make forest officials and environmentalists concerned.

These dolphins show signs of injury. Locals supposed that these dolphins are being beaten to death by a class of fishermen after being caught in a forbidden net.

Local fisherman Mohammad Ashraf Ali said three dead dolphins of the same species were floating at different points on Kuakata beach within six hours. The dolphin that found today was also wrapped with net. Earlier dolphins had bruises on their bodies.

KM Bachchu, a member of the Kuakata Dolphin Conservation Committee, said the dolphin was swept away by the tide on Kuakata beach around noon on Saturday. Earlier on Friday two dolphins, an almost extinct species were floating in the sea.

On August 8, a Gangetic dolphin was floating on Kuakata beach and on August 9, two dolphins were found dead.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society of Bangladesh (WCS), majority of dolphins had died due to being caught in fishing nets, especially current nets.

Endangered species of Irrawaddy dolphins live in the rivers of the Sundarbans and in the rivers Payra, Bishkhali and Baleshwar in the adjoining Patharghata upazila of Barguna.

Kalapara Upazila Fisheries Officer Apu Saha said most of the time dolphins get caught in fishing nets and die. Again, they often die due to age. After death they come ashore in tidal waters.

In July, about three dead dolphins were found in Kuakata and Sundarbans range. In May about four Irrawaddy dolphins found dead on Kuakata beach.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society of Bangladesh (WCS), 149 dolphins died in Bangladesh from 2016 to October 2019.

The mammal dolphin breathes on the water. For this reason, dolphins are seen coming out of water and soon dive into water again. While roaming in the river, dolphins get caught in the current net, hooks or silver nets and get broken their fins. Trapped in a net, it could not come out on the water to breathe and died.

The Bangladesh government undertook a project to take precautionary measures to protect the dolphin habitat. The project, titled 'Expansion of Protected Areas for Essential Aquatic Environment Management' (EPASIAE), aims to protect the Sundarbans for dolphins.

The EPASIAE project was implemented at a cost of Taka 13 crore. An expert in the research team of the project Dr Abdul Aziz, Professor of Zoology in Jahangirnagar University, said that even several years ago, there were a lot of Irrawaddy and Gangetic dolphins roaming upstream of the rivers adjoining Payra, Bishkhali, Baleshwar and Sundarbans. But now it is much less.

Professor Abdul Aziz also blamed that the habitat of dolphins is shrinking due to the spread of forbidden nets in the estuary. At the same time, the existence of these dolphins is very dangerous. In addition, the reduction of navigability is also a factor.

Experts say the Irrawaddy dolphin species is disappearing from the world day by day. At present only 7 thousand have survived. Among them, about 5,800 are in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has become the largest sanctuary for endangered Irrawaddy dolphins around the world.

Nowhere in the world are more than 200 dolphins of this species seen together. Bangladesh is an exception in this case. This is because the rivers in the coastal areas of Bangladesh have a favorable balance of salt and fresh water.