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Rare dolphins spark warning

THOUSANDS of rare dolphins have been found in Bangladeshi waters, a wildlife advocacy group said yesterday, but it warned that the mammals were under threat from climate change and fishing nets.

Nearly 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins, which are related to orcas or killer whales, were found living in freshwater regions of Bangladesh's Sundarbans mangrove forest and the adjacent waters of the Bay of Bengal, the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said.

Prior to this study the largest known populations of Irrawaddy dolphins numbered in the low hundreds or less.

"This discovery gives us great hope that there is a future for Irrawaddy dolphins," said Brian Smith, the study's lead author. "Bangladesh clearly serves as an important sanctuary for Irrawaddy dolphins, and conservation in this region should be a top priority."

The study warned that the dolphins were becoming increasingly threatened by accidental entanglement in fishing nets. And rising sea levels caused by climate change were also a threat.


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