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Plans for memorial for last Ochheuteal dolphin in Stung Treng

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The carcass of the last dolphin at Cambodia-Laos border on Tuesday. FB

Plans for memorial for last Ochheuteal dolphin in Stung Treng

Stung Treng provincial fisheries officiasl say the community has requested that the carcass of the last remaining Irrawaddy dolphin in Ochheuteal pleasance be kept in the community, after it was found dead on February 15.

The dolphin was found to have sores due to its tail being wrapped in a piece of fishing net. The lonely dolphin had fallen ill about a month before it passed away.

The last dolphin to die was a male of about 20 years of age. He was more than 2m in length and weighed 110kg, having lost almost half his bodyweight during his illness, according to Srey Sam Vichet, acting head of the provincial Fisheries Administration.

Sam Vichet told The Post on February 16 that after being discovered about 300m in the lower part of the Ochheuteal pleasance, experts found that the dolphin had died because it could not withstand the wounds caused by the fishing net. The injuries had made it difficult for him to swim and hunt for food.

Sam Vichet said that after the dolphin died, local authorities and the community had asked to keep the carcass to display to tourists visiting the community.

“The authorities and the community have asked to keep it in the locality in which it lived. The provincial Fisheries Administration and World Wildlife Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF-Cambodia) are going to collect samples and then leave the remains here so that they can show the bones to tourists,” he said.

According to provincial authorities, a study in 2018 found that there were only three remaining dolphins in this body of water, with this example having been alone since 2021. The others were also lost to accidents involving fishing nets.

Sam Vichet stated that the lost dolphins were unlikely to be replaced by others, as they had adapted to the specific habitat of the area. There were estimated to be 29 to 32 dolphins remaining in Stung Treng province. The remaining animals lived in canyons in Siem Bok district, he said.

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