Dolphins are some of the world’s most beloved creatures, spawning movies, books, television documentaries, and endless merchandise bearing the wide grin of these cheerful cetaceans. But there are some species of dolphins for whom the outlook is anything but cheerful, as their numbers slowly but surely become smaller despite attempts to establish protection for them. Here are 3 types of dolphins that are on the verge of extinction in our lifetime.
The Maui’s dolphin is the most threatened species of dolphin in the world. This unique species is only found in one small corner of the globe: off of the coast of New Zealand’s North Island. These types of dolphins are the smallest and rarest in the world, with current population estimates hovering around a mere 55 individuals — just half of what was recorded in 2005! Major threats to the Maui’s dolphin include pollution and fishing in crucial habitat, where although they are not the target species, they all too often become victims of fishermen’s nets.
Indus River Dolphin
The Indus river dolphin, found in Pakistan’s Indus River, is the second most endangered species in the world. Many of these dolphins were separated into 3 subpopulations after dozens of dams were built in the 1930s, thereby narrowing the gene pool and decreasing population growth. An estimated 1,200 individuals remain over the 3 subpopulations, and long-term survival has been deemed possible with protections in place. However, this species is still commonly fished for its oil, meat, and for use as bait for catfish, with some fishermen dispatching them simply because they present competition.
The Boto, or pink, dolphin is the third type of extremely endangered dolphin on our list. This dolphin lives in the Amazon River, and is characterized by rosy pink skin and a hump on its back. Humans are the number one threat to the boto dolphin, contributing to its demise by way of water pollution, fishing nets, and even mutilation, as their fins are used as bait for other fish, and some are caught for entertainment purposes, relegated to a life in captivity. The 2010 Amazon rainforest drought also caused a severe decline in population, and it remains to be seen whether these glorious creatures will recover.