The last known freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin in Northeastern Cambodia has died after getting caught in a fishing net on a riverbank of Stung Treng Province.
Cambodia’s Department of Fisheries Conservation announced the death of the freshwater dolphin, also known as the Mekong River dolphin, on its Facebook page on Wednesday, reported the Associated Press. The dolphin’s tail was reportedly seen tangled inside of a fishing net about a week before the animal’s remains were found.
The Irrawaddy dolphin population in Cambodia was estimated to be around 200 in 1997 and has significantly decreased to a total of 89 as of 2020.
According to The Phnom Penh Post, the dolphin passed away due to its injuries, which left it unable to properly swim or hunt. The dolphin was found weighing less than half of its normal body weight.
The head of the Fisheries Administration, Srey Sam Vichet, told The Phnom Penh Post, “After finding it dead near the dolphin pool, our initial findings are that it likely died due to the wounds suffered from its entanglement in the net. Our experts are still investigating, and we have not yet decided where an autopsy will take place. Once we have carried out our inspection, we will know the cause of death with more certainty.”
Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration has also stated that the Irrawaddy dolphin population has been put at high risk due to pollution, climate change and shallow waters caused by dam construction, which reduces the availability of food sources, according to the Associated Press.