May 27, 2024

Composition of Large Prey Species of Irrawaddy Dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) in the Mekong River: Implications for Conservation of the Prey Resources


Minmin Chen, Liang Fang, Xuequn Li, Dara Saing, Yuxi Lian, Ping Zhang, Kang Zhang, and Daoping Yu


Document: Article
Information on the feeding habits of the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) in the Mekong River and how their diet overlaps with that of the species targeted by fisheries is limited. The information provided herein will be helpful for evaluating and protecting important dolphin food resources. The composition of large prey species of Irrawaddy dolphins and the extent of fish resources were surveyed in the Mekong River, Cambodia, using local ecological knowledge. The results showed that Irrawaddy dolphins fed on 13 species of large fish, with Pangasius conchophilus, Cyclocheilichthys enoplos, and Hemibagrus wyckii the most frequently consumed prey. Twelve of the 13 reported prey species were usually caught by fishers. The results also revealed that the average weight of fish caught daily by fishers was significantly lower in 2019 than about five years before that, regardless of the season. A significant decline in fish resources and a high overlap of dolphin diets with fishery target species indicate that Irrawaddy dolphins may also be threatened by prey depletion, especially during the dry season when dolphins are concentrated in deep pools.

Key Words: diet, feeding habits, fish resources, Irrawaddy dolphin, Orcaella brevirostris, Mekong River

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.50.3.2024.252

Page Numbers: 252-258

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