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Irrawaddy dolphins of Malaysia
Irrawaddy1 Irrawaddy2
The Irrawaddy dolphin is a kind of elusive dolphin found in estuarine waters. As they seldom expose much out of water, it’s quite difficult to see their face. Irrawaddy dolphins can be found in tropical rivers, estuaries and coastal waters. New born dolphins are roughly 0.9-1 meters, while the adults are roughly 2.1-2.6 meters. According to the IUCN Red List, their conservation status is vulnerable.

If you would like to see the Irrawaddy dolphins, you’d need to set off early. The skipper will take you to an area of Santubong where you can find some 20 small fishing boats operating. Every morning when the fishermen are there fishing, the dolphins come to the area for a free breakfast – the small fish disposed by fishermen. In the next two hours or so, we watched dolphins among the fishing boats. As the dolphins were still hanging around when the fishermen were gone, we observed them for a longer time than expected.
fishingboat1 fishingboat2

The skipper said that, if it rains heavily on the previous day, fewer dolphins can usually be found. It is probably because the sea water is diluted and the fish move to the outer area of the estuary. The fishermen and dolphins will then follow the movement of the fish.

As Sarawak is a tropical rainforest area, an evening cruise will let you encounter other wildlife. This time, we encountered crocodiles, proboscis monkeys, silver-leaf monkeys as well as fireflies. During the dolphin watching in day time, we also saw terns and white-bellied sea eagles.
tern1 tern2
eagle crocodile
monkey1 monkey2

Fishermen have high respect for dolphins and will not harm them. Although rubbish can be found occasionally in the sea, the environment in general is good and there are not many dolphin watching boats around.

Those who go dolphin watching in Sarawak can help to contribute to the local research work by providing photos of the dorsal fins to the Sarawak Dolphin Project(http://www.ibec.unimas.my/SDP2008/)

City: Kuching, Sarawak
Operator: CPH Travel(http://www.cphtravel.com.my/)
Duration: about 2 hours
Cost: RM 140 per person, at least two persons
Transportation: hotel pickup within Kuching
Best season: March to September, the dry season but showers occur almost every day
Airline: Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines