The Indus River Dolphin is a dolphin subspecies that is closely related to the Ganges River Dolphin. They are endemic to Pakistan and can only be found in parts of the lower Indus River Basin. They are primarily found in the deep waters of the rivers there, but can also be found in shallow areas.
Indus River Dolphins have very thick and stocky bodies. They have flukes and flippers that are comparatively larger than those of many other dolphin species. They also have comparatively small dorsal fins that are located far down their backs. The beak of an Indus River Dolphin is very long and contains sharp teeth that dull with age. These animals have grayish-brown skin and light pink or white undersides. They can grow up to 8 feet in length and can weigh up to 200 pounds. The females of the species are larger than their male counterparts.
One very interesting thing about Indus River Dolphins is their eyes. These dolphins have very small eyes that are located above their mouths. Whether or not they use these eyes to see conventionally, is a matter of debate. Some researchers believe that they can only see very little out of their eyes while others believe that Indus River Dolphins are functionally blind. The waters that they are found in are very muddy, so it is known that they would have very little use for good eyesight.
These animals use echolocation to find their way through the rivers and to hunt. They also use their beaks and fins to search for food on the river bottoms while swimming on their sides. In fact, most of their eating and hunting are done near the river bed. They eat fish and invertebrates such as, clams, prawns, mahseers, carp, catfish, gobies and herring.
Indus River Dolphins are primarily solitary creatures but they can also be found in groups. It is thought that they do not have a particular mating season and may breed all year round. Females of the species gestate for eight to eleven months before giving birth to one calf. The calf is typically around 3.2 feet long. It will nurse for roughly one year before becoming independent. These dolphins become sexually mature at around 10 years of age. Their average life expectancy is not known for certain, but it may be in the area of 30 years.
The Indus River Dolphin is one of the most endangered mammals on the planet. In fact, there may only be a few hundred of these animals left, which may not be enough to keep the species going. Humans have largely impacted their population by building dams, accidentally netting the creatures and by hunting them. An Indus River Dolphin Reserve has been established to try and propagate the species. However, it is unknown if they will be able to increase the wild population of these animals enough to save them from extinction.