Credit: Muhammad Hafeez-ur-Rehman (Pakistan)
Indus river dolphins (Platanista gangetica minor) are one of only four river dolphin species and subspecies in the world that spend all of their lives in freshwater. They are believed to have originated in the ancient Tethys Sea (Pakistan). When the sea dried up approximately 50 million years ago, the dolphins were forced to adapt to its only remaining habitat—rivers.
According to a survey on Indus River dolphins carried out in 2001, only about 1,100 exist in the lower parts of the Indus River in Pakistan. Numbers declined dramatically after the construction of an irrigation system. Most dolphins are confined to a 750 mile stretch of the river and divided into isolated populations by six barrages. They have adapted to life in the muddy river and are functionally blind. They rely on echolocation to navigate, communicate and hunt prey including prawns, catfish and carp.