Joint experts are studying the first recorded instance of a finless porpoise in Cambodian waters after it was caught and killed in a fishing net at the Trapeang Ropov fishing community of Prek Tnaot commune in Kampot’s Bokor town on June 10.

Provincial Fisheries Administration director Sar Sarin reported that the community informed the administration on June 10 about a net-catching incident involving a dolphin. Upon investigation by the fisheries team, in collaboration with Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), it was identified as a female finless dolphin (Neophocaena phocaenoides). This marks the first recorded sighting of this species in Cambodian waters.

"The finless dolphin is a species that our years-long research has never encountered in our area. Our team has identified it as a new species of dolphin [in Cambodia], in addition to the Irrawaddy and pink dolphins," he said, adding that the team is continuing to study to determine its origin. 

"Because our area is rich in biodiversity, with a good ecosystem, abundant food and safe shelter, it may attract dolphins from other regions. We are studying whether it originated from this area or came from another area to find food here," he added.

He said, however, that the dolphin had died due to being trapped in the fishing net for too long. If it had survived, the team would have released it to track its original location. The dolphin’s body was buried in the community.

According to Sarin, there is no ban on fishing nets at Trapeang Ropov and the administration is currently conducting a study to classify it as a protected area where fishing nets would be prohibited.

MCC posted on its social media that it has been collecting and recording data on marine mammal strandings together with local fishing communities for many years, but it does not often post these publicly.

"Today was very sad but also very interesting as this stranding is extremely rare and the first finless porpoise stranding the MCC marine mammal team has seen," it stated, adding that the team will continue to study this new record in detail to preserve the species.

A young Irrawaddy dolphin was seen swimming with pink dolphins in late May in the Prek Tnaot River in Kampot province. The joint team has also observed this unusual presence. However, Sarin said they do not have any updates so far about the mixed group of dolphins.