Paul Stewart

The Last Playground of the Irrawaddy Dolphin

The Last Playground of the Irrawaddy Dolphin

It’s the Mekong river. Not the Irrawaddy, stupid.

The last remaining pods of Irrawaddy dolphin (less than 80) play here in the rainy season. Scratch and tickle themselves on these submerged roots (yes those are roots in the picture) while enjoying their submerged home within the brown, boiling waters of the Mekong river.

The tide of the seasons are many metres along this river. Maybe 6 or 7 (18/21 feet) right here. Heading downstream, the body gently deposits its load and extends the delta downstream in Vietnam and into the South China Sea.

The Mekong delta produces 50% of the Vietnams entire rice production.

In these panoramas, we’re just a few kilometres south of the location of the Don Sahong Dam in Laos within the internationally recognised Ramsar wetland designated as site 999.

The Don Sahong Dam when completed, will block the only braid of the Mekong that allows annual migration of fish between Cambodia and Laos where the fish reproduce.

What it means is that the only natural migration route from Cambodia to Laos if you are a fish and in full moon love will be blocked. There is no other way.

The numbers are quite staggering. At optimum times, it’s a million fish per hour.

It’s an orgy of biodiversity and part of an ecosystem that provides (at no expense) 60% of the protein intake for every Cambodian.

The consequences of diminishing or indeed destroying the balance of this ecosystem service from Cambodia to Vietnam, is simple and straightforward.

Hunger. And no country is happy when it’s hungry.

Unnamed Road, Cambodia
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