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Mass stranding of pilot whales in Tasmania

Mass stranding of pilot whales in Tasmania

Over 450 pilot whales have stranded in various locations along a stretch of coastline in...
Tahlequah, the Southern Resident orca, gives birth to healthy calf

Tahlequah, the Southern Resident orca, gives birth to healthy calf

J35 and J57. Photo by Katie Jones, Center for Whale Research / Permit #21238 Tahlequah...
Why do female orcas live so long after they stop having babies?

Why do female orcas live so long after they stop having babies?

Orcas are one of only five species known to experience menopause and females can live...
Humpback whales swim up river in Kakadu National Park

Humpback whales swim up river in Kakadu National Park

Wildlife experts in Australia's Northern Territory are monitoring a humpback whale that has travelled 18...
WDC scientists join call for global action to protect whales and dolphins from extinction

WDC scientists join call for global action to protect whales and dolphins from extinction

Scientists from Whale and Dolphin Conservation, along with over 250 other experts from 40 countries,...
Rastus – the tale of an extraordinary dog and his love of dolphins

Rastus – the tale of an extraordinary dog and his love of dolphins

Rastus Dr Nicolette Scourse is an academic, educator, author and illustrator with a passion for...
BELUGA WHALE SANCTUARY UPDATE:  Little Grey and Little White arrive safely after move to bay care area

BELUGA WHALE SANCTUARY UPDATE: Little Grey and Little White arrive safely after move to bay care area

We can now confirm that two beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, are now...
Vessel Speed Limits Sought to Protect Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

Vessel Speed Limits Sought to Protect Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

"What we are asking for are essentially school zones along our coast, areas where vessels...

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.

NOTES:

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 marinemammalhabitat.org (in the news and downloads sections).