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Ganges and Indus Dolphin: Platanistidae

Geographic Range

The Ganges and Indus river dolphin is found only on the Indian subcontinent. Indus river dolphins live in about a 100-mile (160-kilometer) stretch of the Indus River where it flows through the Sind and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. Their distribution is limited by two dams built in the 1930s.

Ganges river dolphins live in the Ganges, Meghna, Brahmaputra, and Karnaphuli Rivers, and their tributaries (streams that flow into these rivers). These rivers flow through western India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The dolphins' range has been reduced, and populations have been fragmented or separated from each other by the construction of dams and water control projects, especially along the Ganges River.


Ganges and Indus river dolphins have developed an unusual method of swimming on their side with their tail held slightly higher than their head. As they swim, they drag one flipper along the bottom to stir up food. Scientists believe that this is an adaptation that allows them to live in water as shallow as 3 feet (1 meter) deep. While swimming like this, these dolphins sometimes carry their young on their back.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsGanges and Indus Dolphin: Platanistidae - Physical Characteristics, Geographic Range, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Ganges And Indus River Dolphins And People - DIET