Irrawaddy 1
Irrawaddy Dolphin
Irrawaddy Dolphin
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetacea
Family Delphinidae
Genus Orcella
Species Orcella Brevirostris
Conservation Status

The Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) is a species of dolphin native to Southeast Asia. It's aliases include Irrawaddy river dolphin, though it does not fully dwell in rivers.


They are somewhat similar to a Beluga in appearance, but are actually related to Killer Whales. It has an enormous melon and a very blunt head, which makes the beak not prominent at all. It's dorsal fin is close to it's tail. It is short and blunt. It's flippers are very long and broad. It is primarily white throughout, but is more white on the underparts. Irrawaddy dolphins usually are 7.5-9 feet long and weigh 290 lbs.


Irrawaddy dolphins communicate with clicks, croaks, and various other sounds that's maximum frequency is 60 kilohertz. It might use these sounds as echolocation. Inspection of the feasting in captive specimens has lead scinetists to believe that tese animals take in food using suction. This suits, considering it is commonly seen during spy-hopping spitting water from it's mouth high in the air to expel water taken in during feeding.

Irrawaddies are typically slow swimmers, but speeds recorded up to 15 miles per hour were recorded when it was being pursued. They surface in a rolling manner then lift their tail vertically in the air and dive down deep to hunt. They can hold their breath for 12 minutes. When they surface again, they may make low leaps above the surface. Groups of six dolphins is common, but 15 dolphins have been seen at one time. Irrawaddy dolphins seem scared of other species. Irrawaddies and humbback dolphins were caught and kept in the same tank. The humpbacks chase the Irrawaddies around and confined them to a tiny portion of the exhibit.

Irrawaddie's gestation is typically 14 months. Cows give birth to a young every 2-3 years. When they are born, they weigh 22 lbs and are 3.3 feet long.

Irrawaddies have a mutualistic relationship with people. Local fishermen report that they will help them drive the fish into their nets based on a signal given by the men. The dolphins will eat whatever fish escaped.


Fish eggs, fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans are their primary source of food.


They live for usually 30 years.


Irrawaddies live in bays, estuaries, river mouths, coastal lines, and sometimes rivers such as the Mekong, Ganges, and Irrawaddy. They are found in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, New Guinea, Malaysia, and in some regions near Australia and New Zealand, where it is often confused for the Snubfin dolphin.


Places outside of Bangladesh and India, it is a critically endangered species due to gillnets, crabnets, electrofishing, dam building, blastfishing, and gold mining. It is commonly caught for shows, entertainment, and for casinos, theme parks, and many other reasons that severely affect the dolphin. They were once hunted for their oil.

Many, many efforts have been taken to save this species, both national and international. Some successful, some not. For now, this species is still protected, but accidental murders still happen.



  • Irrawaddy dolphin spitting
  • The dolphin's range


Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris)

Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris)

Quick video

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