Dolphin Dirge

From the "Ocean Treasures Memorial Library"

When an animal becomes “critically endangered” there is a real possibility that it may soon become extinct. The Irrawaddy Dolphin is one critter that tragically lands in this critically endangered category. In the Mekong River, where these freshwater dolphins used to thrive, now only about 80 dolphins remain. Image from WWF

Their numbers decrease as they get tangled up in fishermen’s nets and drown. They are not fish, of course; they are mammals and they need to come up to the surface to breathe. There are other, safer methods to catch fish, but fishermen often want to catch many fish in a very short amount of time. And so they use large nets that capture everything inside, even creatures that the fishermen have no interest in eating or selling…. like Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin

These are one of the smallest types of dolphins. They have lovely, smooth skin and charming smiles and are beautiful to watch as they play in the wild. We should be doing all we can to protect these beloved beasts. A “dirge” is a poem sometimes read at a funeral when there is a death. I hope that this “Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge” might help educate people about this delightful dolphin. Perhaps more dolphin deaths will be avoided.


Irrawaddy Dolphin Dirge

Oh, the world has been quite naughty

To the Dolphin Irrawaddy

These poor creatures get all tangled up in nets

And I think it rather tragic

We can’t rescue them by magic

But we must do something lest the world forgets


When the beasts start disappearing

Then the humans’ end is nearing

And the change depends on you as well as me

If you think it doesn’t matter

This “endangered species” chatter

Then you’re not as smart as you pretend to be

— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

Photo by Roland Seitre for WWF

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