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Old 08-04-2010, 07:57 AM
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Default Irrawaddy Fresh Water Dolphin Tour

Irrawaddy Fresh Water Dolphin TourThe Irrawaddy River Dolphins in Myanmar

The Irrawaddy River is about 2200km long and is one of the most important commercial waterways in Myanmar, flowing from the north to the south of the country. It is one of the habitats of the Irrawaddy Dolphin or Orcaella brevirostris, one of two species of the Orcaella genus, the other being the Australian Snubfin Dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni). The Irrawaddy Dolphin returns to the same area in the Irrawaddy River about 70km north of Mandalay, near Myae Zun, a village of 60 houses and a population of about 150 people. Local cast-net fishermen have developed mutually beneficial cooperative fishing techniques with the Irrawaddy Dolphins. The fishermen call out to the dolphins by tapping their boats with a wooden pin called a Labai Kway. When they see a dolphin slap the surface of the water with its tail flukes, this is a sign that the dolphins are willing to cooperate. Working as a team, the dolphins round up the fish and drive them towards the shore. The fishermen then cast their nets over a sizeable catch that would normally take a whole day to net in without the help of the dolphins. The fish that get disorientated and stuck on the muddy river bottom are scooped up and eaten by the dolphins.

For several years, scientists from the wildlife Conservation Society have studied and monitored the Irrawaddy dolphins. Eight years ago they counted 59 dolphins in the Irrawaddy River north of Mandalay, but unfortunately the population has dwindled to about 37. There is great concern that the species could become extinct out if measures are not put in place to protect them and their habitat. One way of doing this that helps the fishing communities and the dolphins is to promote this cooperative fishing technique as a tourist attraction.

Day 1

Drive to the jetty to climb aboard the special boat for a 3 hour journey 25 miles upstream to Myae Zun village. An afternoon watching out for the dolphins and an introduction to life in the village followed by a visit to Mway Aun Taw pagoda. Stay overnight sleeping on the boat.

Day 2

After breakfast a visit to Mingun village, Pahtaw Taw Gyi (Unfinished Pagoda), Pon Taw Paya, the biggest bell, Mya Thein Tan Temple (Shin Phyume Pagoda).
Drive back down the river to Mandalay jetty and transfer to hotel.

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