The Ganges river dolphin is not only the only member of its genus, but of its family, Plantanistidae, representing an ancient lineage in the order Cetartiodactyla.
The Ganges river dolphin lives in one of the world’s most densely populated areas. It is threatened primarily by the damming of rivers for irrigation and electricity generation, which degrades the habitat, and isolates the populations; preventing seasonal migration.
Like other river dolphins, who have evolved these traits convergently, they rely very little on eyesight because of the muddy waters it inhabits, and as a result has tiny, non-functional eyes that lack lenses. Instead they use echolocation to detect food and navigate, and, to a very small extent, communication.
The Ganges river dolphin is not only the only member of its genus, but of its family, Plantanistidae They are thought to represent one of the earliest divergences within the odontocete (toothed whale) clade, and are some of the first river dolphins. There are two sub species of Ganges river dolphin, with each population only reaching ~1000 individuals.
- Order: Cetartiodactyla
- Family: Platanistidae
- Population: 965-1800
- Trend: unknown
- Size: 1.5-2.5m
- Weight: 150kg
The Ganges river dolphin is found in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Bangladesh and India. A few individuals survive in Nepal in the Karnali River and possibly the Sapta Kosi River.
Habitat and Ecology
The Ganges river dolphin inhabit freshwater river systems, mostly in plains with slow-flowing rivers. They have a preference for deep waters, where prey availability is high. They mainly feed on fish and invertebrates, using echolocation to detect their prey.