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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

19 Ganges River Dolphin Facts You’ll Never Forget

Ganges river dolphin facts for kids about the highly endangered species.

Dolphins are so cute and adorable, aren't they? Have you ever heard of the Ganges River Dolphins? Ganges River Dolphins are freshwater species that are found in parts of the Indian subcontinent. This dolphin species is called the national aquatic animal of India. The Ganges River Dolphin species distinct from Indus River Dolphins are super intelligent animals who are playful and friendly but now are on the verge of extinction. Females attain sexual maturity at an age of 10-12 years, while the males mature a little earlier. The diet of these dolphins in their natural habitat comprises invertebrates and various fish species.

Do you wish to know more about these dolphins? Here are some fun facts about the Ganges River Dolphin. Afterward, be sure to check out our other articles on the Indus river dolphin and striped dolphin facts.

Ganges River Dolphin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Ganges River Dolphin?

South Asian river dolphins are dolphins that have two subspecies. One is the Indus River Dolphin and the other subspecies is the Ganges River Dolphin. These endangered species of dolphin are seen in the parts of the Indian subcontinent. Ganges River Dolphins (Platanista gangetica gangetica) are mostly found in the rivers of Ganga and Brahmaputra, Eastern India, Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems, Nepal, and Hooghly river systems whereas the Indus River dolphins (Platanista gangetica minor) are mostly seen in the Indus river system of Pakistan. These River Dolphins live in one of the most densely populated areas and are restricted to freshwaters. These South Asian River Dolphins are some of the most intelligent animals. It is the National Aquatic Animal of India and Guwahati’s official animal.

What class of animal does a Ganges River Dolphin belong to?

The Ganges River Dolphin is a fresh and clean water dolphin that belongs to the mammalian class due to its ability to give birth to young ones. Ganges River Dolphin is the subspecies of the species South Asian river dolphin and comes under the Artiodactyla order of the Platanistidae family. Its scientific name is Platanista gangetica. The Ganges River Dolphin is also called Sanges susu or shushuk.

How many Ganges River Dolphins are there in the world?

The Ganges River Dolphin is known to be one of the only three freshwater river dolphins existing in the world now. There are around 3,500 Ganges River Dolphins left in the Indian region of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin. Their population is decreasing at a significant rate.

Where does a Ganges River Dolphin live?

The Ganges River Dolphin lives in freshwater rivers in South Asia. They are seen in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Hooghly river systems. South Asian River Dolphins are found in many tributaries, connecting lakes and streams. Indus river dolphins are mostly seen in Pakistan.

What is a Ganges River Dolphin's habitat?

The Ganges River Dolphin is restricted to freshwater river systems in the regions of India. They prefer to live in slow-flowing rivers with plenty of food. These South Asian River Dolphins are found in many tributaries, connecting lakes and streams. Ganges River Dolphins also like to live in areas that form eddy counter currents that are located downstream like convergent tributaries and small islands. They are migratory species and migrate seasonally to tributaries or upstream with a high level of water conditions in a hot climate and back to river channels or downstream with a lower level of water conditions in the winters.

Who do Ganges River Dolphins live with?

Ganges River Dolphins are blind. They mostly prefer to live alone. These South Asian River Dolphins are sometimes in small groups; usually a mother and its young one.

How long does a Ganges River Dolphin live?

The average lifespan of a Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) is 18-22 years in the wild. The oldest male dolphin is known to be 28 years.

How do they reproduce?

Ganges River Dolphins breed year-round. These South Asian River Dolphins reach sexual maturity at 10 years of age. The gestation period of the Ganges River Dolphin is about 10 months but can go from 8-12 months. The female dolphin will give birth to a single offspring who is 27-35 in (68.6-88.9 cm) long. Weaning of the offspring begins at two months till they are nine months old and they become independent after weaning and the parents disperse. Another form of parental care is lactation until weaning.

What is their conservation status?

Ganges River Dolphins are listed as Endangered species in terms of their conservation status. Their natural habitat is degraded due to the increase in the human population. Industries and agricultural activities pollute the river system. Many toxic chemicals are released into the rivers which really affects these dolphins. The modifications made by humans also play a major role in destroying their habitat. The use of nylon fishing nets by fishermen is another reason for putting them in danger. Hunting of dolphins for oil and meat also decreases the population. Hence, this species faces an extinction threat.

Ganges River Dolphin Fun Facts

What do Ganges River Dolphins look like?

Ganges River Dolphins are a freshwater endangered species that is seen in parts of the Indian subcontinent. Adult Ganges River Dolphins are grayish brown in color whereas calves are chocolate brown in color. These species have sharp teeth in the upper and lower parts of the jaw. Ganges River Dolphins have smooth and hairless skin with relatively flat beaks and are widest at the tip. Females are larger than males. These species have a low triangular dorsal fin and have a body with big flippers. This fish species is essentially blind.

Ganges River Dolphin habitat is located in the freshwater river system.

How cute are they?

Ganges River Dolphins are big-sized mammals and have smooth and hairless skin and a long thin snout. They are cute, adorable, and super intelligent. Everyone loves dolphins and they love to play.

How do they communicate?

Ganges River Dolphins are blind. It is impossible for them to resolve images because of the lack of lenses in the eyes. They use pulse sounds to communicate. Ganges River Dolphins use echolocation to find food, escape danger, and move around.

How big is a Ganges River Dolphin?

The Ganges River Dolphin is a large-sized freshwater mammal and has a length of 96-106.8 in (2.4-2.7 m). It’s 10 times bigger than a hamster.

How fast can a Ganges River Dolphin move?

Ganges River Dolphins have a peculiar swimming method and can dive fast. They have a swimming speed of 27 mph (43.5 kph) while swimming upwards.

How much does a Ganges River Dolphin weigh?

On an average scale, an adult Ganges River Dolphin weighs around 330-374 lb (149.7-169.6 kg). It may differ according to the food habits and environment.

What are the male and female names of the species?

As the Ganges River Dolphin is a freshwater dolphin, its species is P. gangetica. A male Ganges River Dolphin is called a bull and a female Ganges River Dolphin is called a cow.

What would you call a baby Ganges River Dolphin?

A baby Ganges River Dolphin is called a calf.

What do they eat?

Ganges River Dolphins are carnivores as they only eat meat. Their diet contains a variety of aquatic animals including small fish, mollusks, and aquatic crustaceans.

Ganges River Dolphins do not have any known predators other than humans. They hunt them for oil, bait, and meat.

Are they dangerous?

Ganges River Dolphins are usually not dangerous. They never attack humans. But the bull sharks found in the river are mistaken to be Ganges River Dolphins and those are the ones who attack others whereas these dolphins are harmless to humans but are predators to other fishes.

Would they make a good pet?

Ganges River Dolphins are friendly and adorable animals that are super cute and intelligent. But river dolphins are not commonly kept as pets and they prefer to live in freshwaters.

Did you know...

Ganges River Dolphins are blind as they lack lenses in their eyes. They are not able to resolve images. It is with the help of sounds, they are able to perceive objects. Ganges River Dolphins use echolocation to find food, escape danger, and move around.

The Ganges River Dolphin skull structure is different from the Indus River Dolphin and this led to both the sub-species being recognized as different from each other.

Why is the Ganges River Dolphin endangered?

Ganges River Dolphins are a freshwater species that has become endangered. There are 3500 individuals left in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin. Their population is decreasing mainly due to the degradation and modification of their habitat. Industries and agricultural activities pollute the river system. Many toxic chemicals are released into the rivers which really affects these dolphins. The modifications made by humans also play a major role in destroying their habitat. The use of nylon nets by fishermen is another reason for putting them in danger. All these reasons contribute to the significant decrease and hence they face a major extinction threat.

Saving the Ganges River Dolphin

Ganges River Dolphins are important in the ecosystem. These dolphins help in maintaining the small fish population and also have been host to some parasites. They also act as key indicators of water and environmental quality. There are steps taken in order to protect them.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry, in order to protect Ganges River Dolphins, declared a dolphin sanctuary named Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary. The Uttar Pradesh government in India uses old and traditional Hindu texts as a means of propagation to protect the dolphins from extinction by grabbing the support of communities.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our Irrawady dolphins facts, and fin whale interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Ganges River Dolphin coloring pages.

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