All dolphin lovers got eagerly tabbing into big fish's Facebook page to know their count after the biggest aquatic census was flagged off at around 10am by transport minister Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh on Friday. Within two hours, the updates started pouring in.
"We've spotted 14 Ganga dolphins so far! Keep your fingers crossed. We hope to count many more!"
By 1pm, 72 dolphins had been spotted by 18 census teams. By 4.30pm, the count reached 151 and at 5pm it crossed the 200-mark with a total reaching 211 on the first day of the census. The final count of the day was 258 along 800 km stretch!
"The dolphin census will help save the species and the rivers too," said the minister while addressing the ceremony.
The counting was last done in 2005 when roughly 1800 big fish were located, out of which, 600 were in Uttar Pradesh. The total number of the water mammals found in the 3000-km stretch will be announced by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on October 7.
Dolphin is a unique mammal. It is blind but swims by echo of its own sound and is capable of slowing down its heartbeat to save oxygen while diving underwater.
The three-day census aims at studying their existence as they face the danger of becoming extinct.
"The census is biggest ever census done for a single species. The boats will run at 10-kmph speed to cover 70-km distance every day," said Rupak De, PCCF (wildlife).
Dolphins are fast reducing as they live maximum up to 28 years and produce up to five offsprings in a lifetime. But, the dip in the count is largely attributed to growing pollution and poaching which makes their survival rate less than the generation one.
The campaign named "My Ganga, My Dolphin" aims to make people aware about dolphins in and around Uttar Pradesh. The campaign will survey the dolphins present in Ganga and Yamuna, Son, Ken, Betwa, Ghagra, and Geruwa for the next two-days also.