GANGETIC DOLPHIN (INDIA’S NATIONAL AQUATIC ANIMAL)
- BY SUDIP MITRA ( student of Msc. Environmental Science 4th sem.
University of kalyani, department of environmental science).
• Common Name- Susu/ susuk.
• Scientific Name- Platanista gangetica.
• Geographic Habitat- Ganga, Brahamputra, Meghna
river system of India, Bangladesh and Nepal, pakisthan.
• Length- 2.70 meter (Male), 2.12 meter (Female).
• Population- less than 2000 in India.
• Weight- 150-170 Kg.
• Status - endangered species.
• Distribution in india- it spread over seven state in india :-
assam, u.p, m.p, rajasthan, bihar, jharkhand, west
CHARACTERISTICS OF GANGETIC
• It is a blind species.
• It has low triangular dorsal fin.
• The claves are chocolate brown at birth and become greyish
brown in adulthood with a smooth and hairless skin.
• Female attain sexual maturity at an 10-12 years, while males
mature earlier( 6- 10 years.)
• Female are larger than male.
• They use ultrasonic sound for communication. In order to navigate
the river and find food this dolphin uses echolocation which allows
it to use echos to find objects in the environment and determine
its size, distance, direction and density.
• The gestation period is 9-11 months and a female give birth to
only one calf, once in 2-3 years.
• They have a long tapered body with a small fin located on the
lower back and a long but narrow beak used for capturing food
that may be hidden in narrow places or mud banks. 3
• The Ganges river dolphin can be found hunting a variety of
freshwater fish and invertebrate such as catfish, clams
• Some researchers believe that these dolphins may also
consume birds, small turtles and small freshwater sharks.
• When it comes to hunting for food they generally hunt for
prey living in shallow waters near the surface or in mud banks.
• Although they have a large beak used for finding hidden and
burrowed prey they are unable to chew the food they capture
and only use their beak to grab onto their prey swallowing
their food whole.
• Due to their small population size the Ganges river dolphin
can usually be found traveling alone or in small groups.
• In order to communicate with one another these dolphins use
a series of clicks and whistles and each dolphin produces a
unique frequency allowing one dolphin to determine who is
speaking in the group.
• While not much is currently known about this species social
structure in the past their species was much more abundant
• Before the rivers become largely populated by humans these
dolphins could be found swimming together in large schools
or pods, which appears to indicate that social hierarchy and
family may have played an important role in their survival and
• The Ganges River Dolphin is at the apex of the aquatic food
chain and its presence in adequate numbers is an indication of
great biodiversity in the river systems and helps keep a
balanced ecosystem (Behera, 2007). It is categorized
as endangered by IUCN, the World Conservation Union in the
IUCN Red Data Book in 2002 (IUCN, 2004). The World Wildlife
Fund-WWF recognizes this species as a flagship species for
freshwater ecosystems. The Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna-CITES has listed
this species as a species endangered by trade in Appendix I
(CITES, 2005). The Ganges River Dolphin is legally protected
throughout its range in South-East Asia.
• Government of india declared the animal as NATIONAL
AQUATIC ANIMAL on 5th oct. 2009. 8
IMPORTANCE OF GANGA RIVER
• Flowing for 2,525 kilometres from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, the
Ganga is at the heart of the 800,000 square kilometre basin which
supports around 300 million people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
• This cradle of the 5,000-year-old Indo-Gangetic civilisation is also India’s
richest basin in terms of fish species – a World Bank study published in
1996 had estimated around 350 species, while a 1991 study by P.K. Talwar
of the Zoological Survey of India had reported 375.
• This diversity is at its richest at the myriad mouths of the Ganga, where it
forms the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans.
Upstream, estimates of freshwater fish species vary between 104 and 161.
• The Ganga basin is the second richest in Asia in terms of
biodiversity, following the Mekong. With a length 60% of that of the
Mekong, it has 74 types (or genera) of fish, whereas the Mekong has 77.
• SAND MINING:- sand mining increases turbidity and
sedimentation , which reduce the suitability of the
habitat for aquatic fauna and also dolphin.
• PESTICIDES USED IN AGRICULTURAL FIELD:- pesticides
and fertilizer that used in agricultural field causes
• Untrated industrial waste.
• Sewage run-off into river and dam construction.
• There is high level of conflict between fisherman and
river dolphin as they both concentrate in areas where
most fish occur.
• OVERFISHING ACTIVITY AND BRICK KLIN.
Fishing activity in hooghly
Dam construction and waste disposal
KEY FACTS ABOUT POACHING
• River dolphins are poached for their oil and
meat by some local communities.
• Dolphin oil is used either as a lure to catch
catfishes or as a medicine for rheumatism.
• It is essential that the use of dolphin oil is
• It is important that dolphin oil fishermen are
given an alternative bait so that illegal
poaching and trade does not continue.
EFFECT OF SAND MINING
• Sand mining increase turbidity and
sedimentation , which reduce the suitability of
the habitat for aquatic fauna and also dolphin.
Sand mining in mangal –
WHY RIVER DOLPHIN ARE POACHED?
–Dolphin oil is used either as a lure to
catch catfish or as a medicine for
–River dolphin are poached for their oil
and meat by some local community.
Brick manufactoring unit in around
• It causes huge air pollution( carbon mono-
oxide, sox, Nox pollution).
• It causes arsenic pollution when they use
• The unhygenic living of brick – klin worker
causes negative impact on their lives and also
pollute ganga river.
• It create child labour problem.
Picture of brick manufactoring unit in
around payradanga- chakdaha
Picture of brick manufactoring unit in
around payradanga- chakdaha
Ground water exploitation and AS
pollution in surface water-body(Nadia)
Brick- klin in Nadia district
CREMATION SITE AROUND GANGA
• IT CAUSES WATER POLLUTION .
• IT HELP TO SPREAD DIESESES THROUGH DOG
CREMATION SITE PICTURE
GILL NET AND MOSQUITO NET
• GILL NET AND MOSQUITO NET KILLS DOLPHIN
IN MONSOON AND PRE- MONSOON IN THEIR
LOCALISE MIGRATION PERIOD.
What is overfishing?
• Overfishing is simply a situation where
humans catch too much fish from the oceans
(and also water bodies) in such massive
quantities and fast pace than nature can
naturally replenish. In other words, it is when
we take out more fish than the fish can
naturally replace. This leads to a degradation
of our oceans, making it a non-sustainable use
of the world’s river.
Other sources of pollution
Unknown fact about Ganga
1) Higher Dissolved Oxygen Content of Ganga:
An Indian environmental engineer, D.S. Bhargava after
three years of thorough study of Ganga concluded that
Ganga is able to reduce its biochemical oxygen demand
level much faster than other rivers. Bhargava
says, organic materials usually exhaust a river’s
available oxygen and starts putrefying. But in the
Ganges, an unknown substance acts on organic
materials and bacteria and kills them. He further adds
Ganga’s self-purifying quality leads to oxygen levels 25
times higher than any other river in the world.
2) Antibacterial Nature of Ganga Jal
• Hindus have always believed Ganga Jal to be pure, pious and drinkable no
matter what. Much reverence is given to Ganga water during Hindu rituals
(from birth to death). But is there really any scientific validity to prove it?
• In 1896, Ernest Hanbury Hankin (a British bacteriologist) after testing the
water from Ganga wrote a paper that was published in French Journal
describing that the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae that causes the deadly
cholera, when put into the waters of Ganga died within three hours. The
same bacteria continued to thrive in distilled water even after 48 hours. He
also suggested that the water of this river and its tributary Yamuna were
responsible for containing the spread of deadly cholera in the region in
those days. Similarly in 1927, Félix d’Herelle (a French-Canadian
microbiologist) was amazed to find no germs at all in water collected just
few feet below the floating bodies of people who died of cholera and
dysentery. The presence of bacteriophages (viruses that kill bacteria) in
the water of Ganges is considered as the reason behind this quality and
3) Antiputrefaction Properties of Ganga:-
• River waters usually tend to putrefy when the lack of oxygen
promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria that lends the water a
distinct smell and stale taste. The water of Ganga though
considered one of the dirtiest, does not tend to putrefy over longer
periods of storage. In fact, British Physician, C.E. Nelson, observed
that the Ganga water taken from Hooghly river (one of its dirtiest
mouths) by returning ships to England remained fresh throughout
the voyage. This was the reason East India Company ships only used
water from Ganges for drinking purposes on their 3-month long
voyage back to England because it stayed “sweet and fresh.” In a
study conducted by Malaria Research Center in New Delhi it was
observed that water from upper ambits of Ganga did not host
mosquito breeding, and also prevented mosquito breeding in any
water it was added to.
Dolphin conservation organization in
• Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)
The Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre (VBREC), led by Dr
Sunil Chaudhary, together with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
(WDCS), the Environmental Biology Laboratory of Patna University, and T.M.
• WWF India
The Dolphin Conservation Programme of WWF-India has been engaged in various
activities to conserve the habitat of the Ganges River Dolphin and secure a future
for the endangered species. The Action Plan prepared by WWF-India in 1997, has
been under implementation to bring about a sustainable improvement in the
status of the Dolphin.
Aaranyak, a registered conservation NGO working in North East India since
1989, has initiated a project entitled “Conservation of Gangetic dolphin in
Brahmaputra river system, India" in collaboration with Dibrugarh University
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE
CONSERVATION OF THE GANGES RIVER
1) Initiating state-wise GangesDolphin
Population Status Surveys and Threat
2) Capacity Building for Ganges River Dolphin
Conservation and Management .
3) Setting up of Protected Areas for the
Ganges River dolphin .
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE CONSERVATION OF THE
GANGES RIVER DOLPHIN
4) Minimising Fisheries Interface and Incidental
Capture of River dolphin.
5) Ensuring Critical Levels of Water Flow in Riverine
Habitats of Dolphins .
6) Prevention, Mitigation and Restoration of Impacts
on DolphinHabitats from Developmental Projects .
7) Community Involvement in river dolphin
Conservation and Management and education and
1)National Ganga River Basin AuthorityMinistry of Environment &
ForestsGovernment of India .
2) Sinha, R. K. and Sharma, G., 2003. Faunal diversity of theRiver
Sarda, Uttar Pradesh, India. J. Ecophysiol. Occup. Hlth. 3: 103-116.
3) Rice DW. 1998. Marine mammals of the world. Special Publication no.4.
Lawrence, KS: Marine Mammal Society
4) WWF-Nepal. 2006. Conservation and Management of river dolphins in
Asia. Proceedings of the regional meeting on conservation and
management of River Dolphins. 26-27 May, Kathmandu, Nepal.
5) Sinha, R. K. 2002. An alternative to dolphin oil as a fish attractant in the
Ganges River system: conservation of the Ganges River dolphin.
Biological Conservation, 107, 253-257 38