Indus River Dolphin Facts

The Indus river dolphin as the name suggests can be found swimming in the Indus river which is located in Pakistan.

In addition to the name Indus river dolphin it has also been referred to as the “side swimming dolphin” because it is often seen swimming on its side and the “blind dolphin” due to its extremely poor eyesight.

Currently the Indus river dolphin has been placed in conservation by the government of Sind and there appears to be an increase in reproduction for dolphins currently in the reserve.

Physical Characteristics

These dolphins have a stocky build with a brownish colored skin tone.

Their snout is long and becomes wider towards the end.

The flippers and tail are large in size but thin and the dorsal fin appears as a small hump on their back that is triangular in shape.

The eyes are very small and largely useless, in fact they are considered blind and are only able to detect the color and intensity of light.

In terms of size these dolphins can grow to lengths of up to 8.5 ft. and weigh over 200 pounds with the females growing slightly larger than the males.


Their typical diet consists of a variety of fish, clams and shrimp.

While they are capable of holding their breath for several minutes when in search of food these dolphins will often makes dives that last no longer than 90 seconds.

Their primary method for locating food and navigating the ocean is the use of highly developed echolocation.

Social Structure

Indus river dolphins generally travel in pairs although they have been spotted in pods consisting of 10 or more dolphins.

They communicate using a series of clicks and whistles, and are active yet gentle swimmer that rarely perform acrobatic maneuvers.

On occasion they may be seen breaching the water, but this is believed to be more likely a reaction to being startled than a desire to perform.

Unlike other species of dolphin the Indus river dolphin appears to form loose bonds with other dolphins and has a preference towards smaller pods rather than large aggregations.


Breeding typically begins between the ages of 6 – 10 when they reach sexual maturity.

The gestation period (the period from conception to birth) lasts for 9 – 10 months.

While breeding can occur anytime of the year reproduction is highest during the earlier months.

After birth mothers may continue to nurse their newborn for up to 12 months although observations show that on average baby dolphins typically separate from their mother after only a few months.

The average lifespan of these dolphins is estimated to be no more than 30 years.


These dolphins are located in the lower to mid sections of the Indus river which is located in Pakistan.

They are freshwater dolphins that prefer murky waters that are less than 100 ft. deep, but may also venture into deeper waters.

In addition to being accidentally caught in fishing nets these dolphins have also been actively hunted by some fishermen for oil, food and medicine.

Other disturbances include the construction of dams and barrages as well as other man-made technology which has endangered and fragmented large groups of dolphins.

10 Surprising Indus river dolphin facts

  1. The Indus river dolphins is one of only a handful of freshwater dolphins in existance today; Others include the Chinese river dolphin, Ganges river dolphin and Amazon river dolphin.
  2. The scientific name for the Indus river dolphin is, “Platanista gangetica minor”.
  3. The Indus river dolphin is a marine mammal which means it’s warm-blooded, breathes air, gives birth and produces milk to feed its young.
  4. Because these marine mammals live in the Indus river they do not face the same natural threats other dolphins are known to face such as attacks from sharks or killer whales.
  5. Due to their apparent small population size these marine mammals are currently considered endangered and hunting them is considered illegal.
  6. The Indus river dolphin is one of around 80 known species of cetacea and one of around 40 known species of dolphin.
  7. The Indus river is a major river that runs through Packistan, Afghanistan, India and China allowing various locals to travel and transport goods from one location to the next.
  8. Because the Indus river dolphin is considered blind it has to rely primarily on echolocation to navigate the ocean and search for food.
  9. Organizations such as the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) have created education programs and additional efforts to help protect this rare species and hopefully develop conversations to help these marine mammals repopulate their species.
  10. Despite researchers best efforts the Indus river dolphin is not well known and research regarding these marine mammals remains scarce.