To save river dolphins, we need to protect their freshwater homes

Further progress has been recently made in reaching the goal of identifying and protecting important habitat for river dolphins. Experts have agreed that a method currently used to identify areas of ocean that are important habitats for whales and oceanic dolphins can also be used to identify important habitats for aquatic mammals such as river dolphins living in freshwater environments. 

An ‘Important Marine Mammal Area’, or IMMA, is a discrete portion of marine mammal habitat identified and agreed by experts and has the potential to be managed for conservation.  IMMAs are an important conservation tool as they highlight actual habitats essential for marine mammal survival based on the best scientific information and expert advice. Once IMMAs are agreed, they become a focus for wildlife protection and conservation efforts.

In the future, experts will be able to adapt the IMMA tool for freshwater species such as river dolphins living in rivers, lakes and estuaries.  Identifying and sharing information about carefully selected IMMAs for river dolphins will help jump-start habitat protection efforts for these threatened species. IMMAs for river dolphins will help pave the way for the creation of networks of protected areas and conservation recommendations for them. 

Once IMMAs for river dolphins have been identified, any that are found to overlap with existing National Parks or other designated wildlife conservation sites will highlight opportunities to broaden the existing wildlife protective measures to include river dolphins. For example, an IMMA inside or overlapping a reserve set up to protect a bird species or an area of wetland important for birds could then have measures put in place to protect river dolphins and existing rangers and reserve managers could then extend their efforts to include river dolphin protection.

River dolphin populations in Asia and Latin America are threatened. One species, the baiji, or Chinese River dolphin has already gone extinct in recent years.  It is essential that we highlight important habitat areas for river dolphins to assist conservation efforts. Protecting the areas in nature that they need to survive is challenging but essential for their future survival. 

Please make a donation to help WDC protect endangered river dolphins. Thank you.


A scoping Workshop on IMMAs in Freshwater Environments took place during the 2017 Society for Marine Mammalogy’s biennial conference in Halifax, Canada.  The goal was to consider the identification and utilisation of the IMMA tool to enhance protection efforts for aquatic mammals in freshwater environments, including protected areas, key biodiversity areas and other area-based measures or instruments. 

The process to identify IMMAs within inland, freshwater-dominated environments will require further collaboration amongst experts during future IMMA freshwater workshops. For more information, see (in the news and downloads sections).

Amazon river dolphin
Amazon river dolphin


What a beautiful animal. I hope areas can be found for these dolphins to live safely.

Let us know if there is anything we can do.

Rich Michaels

It does not sound like anything to implement the protection of river dolphins has actually been done! It seems like the scoping Workshop on IMMAs in Freshwater Environments that took place during the 2017 Society for Marine Mammalogy’s biennial conference in Halifax, Canada was merely a consideration!
The solution is being postponed, AND NOT IMPLEMENTED, since you said "The process to identify IMMAs within inland, freshwater-dominated environments requires further collaboration among experts during FUTURE IMMA FRESHWATER WORKSHOPS!" In the meantime, there is no protection for the river dolphin! NOTHING IS BEING IMPLEMENTED!

I agree, no disrespect intended and maybe there's something I'm missing but I believe action and execution of plans & ideas is what will in the end, produce change and significant improvement. Let's make sure our motives are in the right place as we do what we can to help the environment and animal kingdom thrive. Thanks for the post and information, I know you have great intentions and I'm all for the helping of endangered species.

A beautifull animal! I have made an donation. Continue like this guys!

I've always wanted to see a river dolphin in person! IMMAs are critical to keep preserving and fighting for their protection, especially for endangered species like these. Sadly there are many out there that don't see them as high on a priority list so more awareness like this so important. Keep up the good effort.
Cliff -

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.