Cambodia: Kampi – Mekong River Irrawaddy Dolphins

This is one of the rarest species on the planet – there are only 90-100 individuals remaining inhabiting the middle portion of the Mekong River over a 180km stretch in central Cambodia (other subspecies of the river dolphins are found in Indonesia and Bangladesh in larger numbers). Our expectations of seeing them at or near zero. Everyone I asked about it – had never seen them. And lo and behold – just 15 minutes into cruising on the Mekong amongst some river island, an irrawaddy dolphin actually completely leaped out of the water in just meters in front of the boat (they are not supposed to do this actually). After that – it was sighting after sighting, one after another puffing and showing their bulbous heads, sometimes three animals at a time! These dolphins have a huge bulging forehead, short beak, and 12-19 teeth on each side of both jaws, weighing up to 200 kg / 440 lb. They communicate with clicks, creaks, and buzzes at a frequency of about 60 kilohertz, heavily relying on echolocation. They are slow moving and rather shy. Total luck to see them!