Fishermen in Pakistan discover an exotic dolphin with longer and sharper teeth that scares people into staying transfixed (VIDEO)

In LARKANA, Pakistan, on November 8th, a critically endangered grey dolphin is being transported to a sanctuary in a truck. Its flippers twitch weakly as rescuers diligently sprinkle water on its body, ensuring its skin remains moist and preventing potential harm.

This particular Indus river dolphin, with its distinct features of blindness and a snout adorned with two rows of sharp teeth, had ventured away from its natural freshwater habitat and inadvertently found itself in a bustling waterway. To safeguard its well-being, dedicated rescue personnel in the southeastern province of Sindh skillfully trapped the dolphin using nets before carefully lifting it out.

Now they must keep it alive as they race to the sanctuary 82 km (51 miles) away where they can free it.

“We have to try and get it to the river as soon as possible,” said Mir Akhtar Hussain Talpur, an official of the provincial wildlife department, which has rescued 10 of the animals this year, eight of them in just the last month.

“When we are taking a rescued dolphin to the river, we have to be very careful,” he said.

It was a delicate task to keep the skin wet and foster the animal’s impression of being still in the water, while ensuring no fluid entered the blowhole by which it breathes, he added.

The dolphins are being squeezed out of their habitat after human activity, from dams for irrigation projects to pollution, penned them into a 1,200-km (750-mile) stretch of Pakistan’s Indus river, or just half their original range.

Living for millions of years in the turbid waters, the mammals, just one of four surviving freshwater species, eventually went blind and use echolocation, or a form of sonar, for navigation.

They can grow to a length of more than two metres (2 yards) and exceed 100 kg (220 lb) in weight, feeding on catfish, carp and prawns, but need waters at least a metre deep to keep alive.

An Indus dolphin is seen inside an ambulance in Larkana, Pakistan

Some smaller animals stray into shallow irrigation canals, ponds and even fields, where they cannot survive. Although hunting them is banned, Sindh wildlife officials say that getting entangled in fishing nets remains a key threat.

But protection efforts have paid off, with numbers rebounding to 1,816 in 2019, up by half from 2001, a WWF survey showed. That was a far cry from the figure of 132 in 1972 that brought endangered status, leading to creation of the sanctuary.

An Indus dolphin is released into a river in Sukkur, Pakistan

About 30 animals have died in the roughly 200 rescue efforts Pakistan has launched since 1992. But all 27 rescues after 2019 have succeeded.

Rescuers pour water over an Indus dolphin inside an ambulance in Larkana, Pakistan

Reporting by Waseem Sattar and Sheree Sardar; Writing by Masako Iijima; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

An Indus dolphin is carried to shore in Larkana, Pakistan

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Rescue workers carrying an Indus dolphin towards shore in Larkana, Pakistan

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