Irrawaddy Dolphins about fifteen to twenty of these rare freshwater dolphins make their home on a beautiful stretch of the Mekong River near a small set of rapids. They make upward arches, breaking the surface of the water as they swim about the area.
They are not jumpers like their sea-faring relatives and are quite a bit shyer as well. They have good reason to be shy towards humans as they have been hunted and killed by fishermen in the past. The hope is that their numbers will slowly increase, as more fishermen in the area are educated about them. They are most active in the early morning hours (around 6 am) and the late afternoon and early evening hours.
However, we went during the mid-afternoon heat of the day and had numerous sightings. A local family hires out their small towboat and a son to take you out on the river for a closer look. The charge is 3,500 riel per person. To get there, just follow the road north from the Globe traffic circle for 14 km Turn left at the dolphin picture sign. The family and river are there. The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) population inhabits a 190km stretch of the Mekong River between Cambodia and Lao PDR. The latest population is estimated between 64 and 76 members (2008 figures).
The Irrawaddy dolphin is identified by a bulging forehead, a short beak, and 12-19 teeth on each side of each jaw. The pectoral fin is broadly triangular. There is a small dorsal fin, on the posterior end of the back.