National Dolphin Day in India Date in the current year: October 5, 2024

National Dolphin Day in India National Dolphin Day is observed in India annually on October 5. It was launched by the National Board for Wildlife and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 2022 to raise awareness of the plight of Indian dolphins and highlight the importance of dolphin conservation efforts.

Dolphins are aquatic mammals within the infraorder Cetacea. There are 40 extant dolphin species; some of them are oceanic, while others reside in freshwater or brackish water (river dolphins). A family of river dolphins endemic to the Indian Subcontinent is named Platanistidae. It contains two extant species, the Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica) and the Indus river dolphin (Platanista minor).

Both the Ganges river dolphin and the Indus river dolphin are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. As of 2017, there were less than 3,500 Ganges river dolphins and about 1,800 Indus river dolphins remaining. Most threats that these aquatic mammals face are man-made; they include water pollution, noise pollution, ship traffic, construction of dams and hydroelectric power plants, stranding in canal systems, habitat fragmentation, and bycatch.

One of the first initiatives to protect the endangered Ganges river dolphin was the establishment of the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in 1991. The sanctuary is a 60 km-long protected area stretching along the Ganges river from Sultanganj to Kahalgaon in the state of Behar. In addition to dolphins, it is home to many other threatened aquatic species.

In August 2020, the Indian government announced the launch of Project Dolphin, a nationwide initiative to conserve Indian dolphin species. It is coordinated by the Wildlife Institute of India under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Project Dolphin was modeled after Project Tiger, a long-running wildlife conservation initiative to preserve India’s tiger population.

One of the reasons why dolphin conservation efforts are so important is that the Ganges river dolphin is an indicator species because it is extremely sensitive to changes in water flow and quality. Its status provides information on the overall condition of the ecosystem and the condition of other species in that ecosystem. In other words, the conservation of dolphins benefits the survival of other species in aquatic ecosystems.

National Dolphin Day was established in 2022 to raise awareness of dolphin conservation and educate the general public on the importance of dolphins for aquatic ecosystems and people who depend on these ecosystems for their livelihood. It is observed on October 5 because on this day in 2009 the Ganges river dolphin was officially recognized as the national aquatic animal of India.

National Dolphin Day mostly focuses on the Ganges river dolphin because the Indus river dolphin lives mostly in Pakistan, and there is only a small population of it in northwestern India. However, it is important to remember that all dolphin species need our protection, not just in India, but around the globe.

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National Dolphin Day in India, holidays in India, environmental observances, dolphin conservation, Project Dolphin