A dead Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin that was washed ashore on the popular Ochheuteal Beach in Preah Sihanouk province on Monday night had probably died after getting trapped in a fishing net, according to an initial conclusion by the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The department’s Kampong Sorm Fisheries Administration said on its Facebook page on Tuesday that the endangered salt water dolphin, weighing over 200kg and measuring 2m, had died several days before it was found.
“Our initial conclusion is that this Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin died after getting trapped in fishing net,” the post said.
Protected by government sub-decree No 123, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are concentrated around Koh Pring, Koh Tang, Koh Rong and Koh Ses islands.
Ek Phea, the deputy director of provincial Fisheries Administration, told The Post on Tuesday that the authorities buried the swollen carcass near the beach after an inspection.
Phea called for a joint protection of the endangered species.
“Please fishermen, if you see dolphins trapped in fishing nets, set them free because this kind of dolphin is an endangered species,” he said.
The authorities said this is the first time this year that this dolphin specie had been found dead in the province.
Veth Sonim, a field coordinator from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Koh Kong province who was not involved in the inspection, said while a dolphin’ abdomen can be dissected to determine the cause of death, other factors threaten their survival.
He said among the major threats are food containing chemical substances from plastic, illness, and attacks by predators.
“Dolphins are vital to the ecological system. Through their presence, we can determine the quality of water and surrounding environments, if their habitat is clean and free from pollution. They also contribute to other fishes, sea grass. They complement each other,” he said.
Sonim said there are 10 kinds of dolphins known to live in Cambodians sea including the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and orcaella brevirostris or Irrawaddy dolphin.