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Information Sheet No.A-0718(I)

Information  Sheet

		This office is presenting an article entitled "Ayeyarwady Dolphine" written
by Dr. Tin Maung Kyi (Mandalay) for your reading pleasure.

Ayeyarwady Dolphine

		In a discussion with a friend researcher, we came to dolphins living in the
great Ayeyarwady river.
		He said, "you see, they are friends of fishermen. They drive the fishes
towards the net. They are friendly to all and never harm anyone."
		"When I was a boy, "I added, "I often saw these black beasts coming to the
surface. Now they are a rare sight in the river."
		Dolphin and porpoises are nearly the same. But the two can cause confusion
because a bright coloured fish is also called Dolphin. (Porpoise means a
pigfish.) However Dolphin is a better name reserved for this kind of mammals. 
		My friend went on. "Humans are their worst enemy. They kill dolphins for
food and sale. A belief in dophin's fat and oil as a remedy for muscle pain
and cramp is erroneous. At this time of modernization and advanced technology,
new progress in medicine is made every day. There are plenty of remedies
better than dolphin's oil. Even indigenous medicine can help a lot with better
formulas. Indiscriminate killing of dolphins for their oil can wipe out the
species. These dolphins live only in this river. They do not live elsewhere
and hence the reserved name Ayeyarwady Dolphin."
		My friend seemed to be better informed in this. I was surprised. "What? Is
that what the zoologists call the Ayeyawady species?" 
		"Yes," my friend went on. "They  are found in this river only. So the world
knows it. But we, the natives here, are still ignorant of it. Its scientific
name is Orcella brevirostris. The dophins used to travel down the great river
and navigate along the coast of Moutama Gulf to Singapore. Then they retrace
the steps and enter the river up to 700 miles from the sea."
		Getting more interested, I asked him, "Don't they visit other rivers like
Ganges and Brahmaputra?
		"Never, "was his reply. "They enjoy living in the Ayeyarwady river only.
There are other species each living in rivers where they belong - Amazon,
Yangtze, Ganges, Brahmaputra etc. They all live in their own river and never
mix up. Ganges species is unique in that they have a snout pointed like a
crocodile's; they are provided with teeth and are happy in muddy depth."
		"Very interesting," I remarked, "and please tell me more."
		So my friend continued. "Dolphins belong to Cetacea, the same order as
whales. They are warm-blooded animals having gone back to water by reason
unknown, perhaps 50 million years ago. Both dolphins and whales breathe air,
like other mamals. Dolphins emit sound waves inaudible to us, and thereby
communicate with each other." 
		"Where can I find them?
		"Well, they are found in three groups, one in Mingun (near Mandalay). This
group comes as far as Innwa Bridge and you can see them from it. The second
group is in the Chindwin river that joins the Ayeyarwady near Myingyan. The
third is lower downstream."
		"Better if dolphins can be studied."
		"Yes, but there are some difficulties. Who will catch them for study? Don't
expect the fishermen. They are not willing to catch their lifelong friend. If
we catch them, where shall we keep them? It is really costly to keep them in
captivity. We also need financial support for this study. We will have to
build a pool wide enough to accommodate them. Clean water supply and its
continual exchange is necessary to avoid pollution. The dolphins must be
specially fed to ensure better health. We have to measure, weigh, test and
observe their behaviour. Above all, we need references on the subject to help
our researches and cooperate with other agencies abroad."
		"Ah, I see. It is not easy to a make a study. Then what can we do for our
		"Nothing at present, " he pointed out.
		"But we should make a proposal to protect these dolphins. This is our
national heritage like forest and mountains, lakes and ponds, flora and fauna,
all belong to us."
		"Dolphins are intelligent," he went on. "They are smart for they can count
up to 10, obey orders and respond to commands by underwater signals. They can
even make assortment of tricks. They can be trained to perfection for some
tasks. Many experiments are being undertaken in many marine laboratories
around the world. A few of them are in San Diego, Bahama Island, Hawaii,
Japan, and so forth."
		Mother dolphin delivers a single baby underwater. The baby dolphin is also
nursed underwater. The mother squirts milk into infant's mount.
		When one finds a dolphin, he knows that land is near. Dolphins used to
follow ships, diving up and down, leaping and splashing in the water, racing
along and playing with the boats and sailors.
		I still heard my friend's last word. " We should spread an old saying that
killing a dolphin will invite misfortune."