The Venice Dolphins Were Fake, But the Gangetic Dolphins in Kolkata Are For Real


The Venice Dolphins Were Fake, But the Gangetic Dolphins in Kolkata Are For Real

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Although presently the bane of our lives, the lockdown has been a boon for the environment. Besides being blessed with cleaner air, with NASA confirming that the pollution has plummeted to a 20-year-low in the northern states, and the Ganga water finally being deemed fit for drinking for the first time in decades, nature with the absence of human obstructions is slowly healing. And it brings along with it another rare sighting – the Gangetic Dolphins!

The “critically endangered” South Asian River Dolphins have been spotted along the shores of Kolkata for the first time in decades. The Gangetic dolphins are also the only freshwater dolphins in the world, which marks their return as highly significant .

Until 30 years ago, the Gangetic dolphins were regular visitors often spotted from the ghats in Kolkata. But the increased pollution and human activities along the Hooghly River forced the mammals to leave their habitat.

However, with the industrial activities on a pause at the moment, the water pollution has notably reduced. Biswajit Roy Chowdhury, a senior environmental activist, in an interview with The Times of India, stated that he spotted a couple of dolphins at Babughat. Wildlife photographer Ganesh Chowdhury couldn’t hide his surprise. “I can remember even 30 years ago, these dolphins used to be spotted from different ghats of Kolkata,” he recounted. “Then, as the water pollution levels increased, these mammals disappeared. Dolphins coming back simply indicates that the quality of Hooghly water has improved.”

The global population of the Gangetic dolphins is between 1,200 to 1,800, according to a study conducted by a team of experts from the Worldwide Fund for Nature-India in 2017. It was noted that the endangered mammals were sighted in highly polluted niches of the river. Apart from pollution, the other big threats to the existence of these dolphins were human activity and transport in the Hooghly river .

The story had the internet brimming with positive reacts only.

The lockdown has a lesson for all.

Will humans finally understand the importance of co-existing with nature? Only the other side of our pandemic lockdown will tell.