Archive for December 29th, 2011

Mekong Journals: 8

December 29, 2011 in Mekong Journals | Comments (0)



[In January 2003 I accompanied an expedition that was conducting a survey of river dolphins on a stretch of the Mekong River in Cambodia. The expedition was led by Isabel Beasley, who was then a PhD student specializing on Orcaella brevirostris: also known as the ‘Irrawaddy Dolphin’ this species is found in many Asian river systems and deltas. The journal I kept during the expedition will appear on this site as a continuous series of posts. This is part 8 of the series.]


The dolphins keep surfacing all around us, as we drift in the water here at Chroy Banteay, but always unpredictably. At 11 am it is very hot, the sun relentless. Isabel is without a hat or any protective gear. She is standing, camera at the ready. That’s all she’s done all morning, and that’s all she’ll do all day. There are long periods of quiet followed by sudden rockings of the boat as she spins around to take a picture, after a dolphin announces its presence with a snort. Often these bursts of activity are followed by mild expletives, occasioned by the missing of a shot.

For almost an hour now our boat has been beached pretty close to the shore, and we’ve repeatedly spotted the mother-and-child pair of dolphins. Isabel thinks that the young one might be a juvenile because it seems to go off on its own a bit. But the pair have stayed within fifty metres of me, surfacing in tandem repeatedly. They are occasionally joined by a couple of others – but the mother and child seem to stay together.








In the distance, booming faintly across the water is the throbbing of a bass guitar – somebody’s amplified karaoke.






Isabel says that this is one the best morning’s viewings she’s ever had and she thinks she may even have identified a couple of new individuals – she hadn’t seen the mother before.

Isabel also carries a Global Positioning System device – a small hand-held unit, which she uses to establish the co-ordinates of each sighting.


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