National Aquatic Animal of India - Interesting Facts about Gangetic River Dolphin for UPSC

The Ganges River Dolphin or also called ‘Susu,’ is the National Aquatic Animal of India. It is one of the National Symbols of India. Gangetic Dolphins are found in the river systems of Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna, and Karnaphuli- Sangu in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.

It will be helpful to know about the National Aquatic Animal of India for the IAS Exam. This article is going to answer a few questions related to the topic and will also provide some relevant facts about the Ganges River Dolphin.

National Aquatic Animal of India – Introduction

The Ganges River Dolphins (Platanista Gangetica) was officially discovered in 1801. The original stretches where the National Aquatic Animal of India are found:

  • Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna River Systems and
  • Karnaphuli-Sangu River Systems; of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh

Why is the Ganges Dolphin National Aquatic Animal of India?

The reason to declare Ganges River Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal of India was to save it from extinction. Also, the Ganges Dolphin is seen as the reflector of the health of the Ganga River. The declaration was made in 2009 in the National Ganga River Basin Authority’s (NGRBA) first meeting.

Facts about National Aquatic Animal of India – Ganges River Dolphin

There are quite a few important and interesting facts about the Ganges River Dolphin which a UPSC 2023 aspirant should know. The table below mentions the relevant facts about the National Aquatic Animal of India:

Interesting Facts about National Aquatic Animal of India – Ganges River Dolphin
Ganges River Dolphin is found only in freshwater
As the name goes, the Ganges Dolphin are endemic to the river Ganga
They are at the apex of the aquatic food chain
Ganges River Dolphin along with Indus River Dolphin is the sub-species of South Asian River Dolphin.
It is the official animal of the Assam’s capital Guwahati
There are also called Susu, Shushak, Side Swimming Dolphin & Blind Dolphin
Because of the sound, they make in the forms of whistles, these species of South Asian River Dolphin are also called Susu
It cannot breathe in the water, it being a mammal. It surfaces above the water every 30-40 seconds to breathe
Deep pools, eddy counter-currents located downstream of the convergence of rivers and of sharp meanders, and upstream and downstream of mid-channel islands are favoured by the Ganges River Dolphins
There is a Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary called Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bihar. Locals of Bihar called Gangetic Dolphin as ‘Soons’
They use the way of ‘Echolocation’ to trap their prey
In the mythology of India, Dolphin is considered as the vehicle of Goddess Ganga
The population of Ganges River Dolphin is less than 1800, as quoted by WWF-India
The babies of Dolphins are called calves, and they are chocolate brownish when they are born and gradually the colour changes to grey
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has given the status of ‘Endangered’ to the Ganges River Dolphin
The species is included in the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 – Schedule I. It makes it prohibited to be hunted throughout India, except under threat to human life
Trade of Ganges Dolphin is prohibited
World Wide Fund for Nature – WWF-India also had started the Dolphin Conservation Programme to conserve the habitat of the Ganges river dolphin and secure a future for the endangered species. The stretches chosen by WWF-India are:

  • Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora) in the state of Uttar Pradesh (Proposed Ramsar Site)
  • Chambal River (up to 10 km downstream of Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary) in the state of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh
  • Ghagra and Gandak River, in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
  • Ganga River, from Varanasi to Patna in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively
  • Son and Kosi River in Bihar
  • Brahmaputra River from Sadia (foothills of Arunachal Pradesh) up to the Dhubri (Bangladesh Border)
  • Kulsi River a tributary of Brahmaputra.
WWF-India in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Forest Department started the Annual Gangetic River Dolphin Survey in October 2019.

  • The method used for the survey was the Tandem Boat Method.
  • The survey was conducted alongside a 250 km stretch of the Ganga river between the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary and Narora Ramsar site.
Dolphins are considered to be one of the most intelligent species
Threats to Gangetic Dolphin:

  • Water Development Projects
  • Toxicity of rivers
  • Killing of them for their oil, by the local inhabitants around the river
  • Accidental killings when the Gangetic Dolphins are trapped in fishermen gear

National Aquatic Animal of India – UPSC Notes:-Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Gangetic River Dolphins


What is the Lifespan of A Gangetic River Dolphin?

The life span of the Ganges river dolphin is thought to be about 26 years. Indus river dolphins, Platanista gangetica minor, aka blind river dolphins or bhulans, are very similar to the Ganges river dolphins with the exception of having slightly different tail lengths and the rivers they inhabit.

Where are the habitatis of the Gangetic Dolphin located?

The Ganges river dolphin was officially discovered in 1801. Ganges river dolphins once lived in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. But the species is extinct from most of its early distribution ranges.

There are other National Symbols of India, articles on which are linked in the table below and you can refer them:

National Flag of India National Emblem of India Currency Symbol of India National Flower of India National Bird of India
National Anthem of India National Animal of India National Song of India Calendars in India  National River of India

UPSC Preparation:

India Year Book – 5 Things to Know UPSC Calendar 2023
Documents Required for UPSC Exam Language Papers in UPSC – Tips to Study
UPSC FAQ IAS Eligibility Criteria


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