Irrawaddy Dolphin Watching Guidelines

Co-operative Fishing with Ayeyarwady Dolphin


Seeing Irrawaddy Dolphin and other wildlife in their natural environment can be a trilling and unforgettable experience.

The cooperative fishery practiced between Irrawaddy dolphins and cast-net fishermen is a unique phenomenon. It is part of the rich cultural heritage and biodiversity of Myanmar.

While watching wildlife, people sometime forget that their presence can have a negative impact on wildlife and their behavior. Just like us, wild animals need space to find food, choose mates, raise young, socialize and rest.

We must not disrupt the dolphin behavior or cause them unnecessary stress by approaching them too fast or too closely, or making too much noise in their habitat. This can threaten their lives. Please follow these guidelines in the presence of Irrawaddy dolphin watching.

Set an example for others and help protect our spectacular wildlife resources and unique culture of co-operative fishing.

The following guidelines are intended to protect both the dolphins and the co-operative fishery for future generation. The dolphins and cooperative fishery are sensitive to the impacts of humans including inappropriate tourism practices. However, appropriate tourism can benefit both the survivals of the dolphins and human-dolphin co-operative fishery.

We need to minimize our impact on the Irrawaddy dolphin and its surrounding.

These guidelines are designed to help you enjoy your wildlife encounter, and reduce the risk of disturbing the dolphins and cooperative fishery.

Irrawaddy Dolphin Watching:

BE CAUTIONS and COURTEOUS: Approach areas of known or suspected dolphin activity with extreme caution. Look in all directions before planning your approach or departure.

SLOW DOWN: Reduce speed to less than 2 knots when within 300 meters/yard of the neatest dolphin. Avoid abrupt course changes.

USE only row boats to observe the human-dolphin co-operative cast-net fishery.

DO NOT ride on the co-operative fishing boat. Passengers are not allowed on these boats. They are unstable and cannot be maneuvered with the extra weight.

WEAR A Life JACKET while in the row boat.

KEEP CLEAR of the dolphins’ path. If dolphins are approaching you, cautiously move out of the way.

DO NOT APPROACH dolphins from the front pr from the side. Always approach and depart dolphins from behind, moving in direction parallel to the direction of the dolphins.

KEEP YOUR BOAT on the inshore side of the co-operative fisherman boat.

DO NOT APPROACH or position your row boat closer than 10 meters/yards to any dolphin.

REDUCE YOUR SPEED AND CAUTIOUSLY MOVE AWAY if a dolphin surface within 10 meters/yards of the row boat.

LIMIT your viewing time to recommend maximum of one hour. This will minimize the cumulative impact of dolphin-watching boats and give consideration to other viewers.

ALLOW NO MORE than 2 rowboats to observe the human-dolphin cooperative cast-net fishery at any one time.

BE CAUTIONS AND QUIET used only sign language during cooperative fishing.

DO NOT try to swim with, touch, or throw things at dolphins.

DO NOT throw things into river which are not biologically degradable.

ENSURE that the cooperative fisherman receiver fair compensation for showing tourist the human-dolphin cooperative fishery. Each group of tourists in a rowboat (no more than 3 persons) should pay 10,000 Kyats to be shared equally among the fishermen.

If you have questions and to report a dolphin disturbance or harassment please contact:

Environmental and Endangered Species Unit,
Department of Fisheries, Yangon

Department of Fisheries, Mandalay

Wildlife Conservation Society – Yangon
01 -512 984, 524 893

Ayeyarwaddy Dolphin
Ayeyarwaddy Dolphin