Irrawaddy dolphins feed on fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. Irrawaddy dolphins sometimes spit water while feeding, which may be used to herd fish.
Researchers have documented that in the Irrawaddy (or Ayerarwady) River, Myanmar, these dolphins engage in cooperative fishing with cast-net fishermen. Fishermen search for dolphins and call them by tapping a lahai kway, wooden key, on the sides of their boats. One or two lead dolphins then swim in smaller and smaller semi-circles herding the fish towards the shore. During cooperative fishing, the dolphins often dive deeply with their flukes aloft just after the net is cast and create turbulence under the surface around the outside of the net. The dolphins seem to benefit from the fishing by preying on fish that are confused by the sinking net, and those trapped around the edges of the lead line or stuck in the mud bottom just after the net is pulled up.
Animal Foods: fish; eggs; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans
Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore )
- 2004. "Facultative river dolphins : conservation and social ecology of freshwater and coastal Irrawaddy dolphins in Indonesia" (On-line). University Van Amsterdam Digital Academic Repository. Accessed March 08, 2010 at http://dare.uva.nl/document/115596.
- Smith, B., T. Mya. 2007. Status and conservation of Irrawaddy Dolphins in Ayeyarwady river of Myanmar. Status and conservation of freshwater populations of irrawaddy dolphins, 31: 21-40.