Amid the steaming swamps adjoining Borneo’s Mahakam River, a fisherman slows his boat to glide gently across the surface of Lake Melintang. He senses something amiss up ahead. A critically endangered freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), locally known as pesut, slithers through the muddy shallows, desperately trying to stay afloat in less than 60 centimeters (2 feet) of water. Earlier, it chased a fish into the shallow lake system and is now marooned. Explosive exhalations from its blowhole mist the air as it refills its lungs. Danielle Kreb, scientific program manager at the Conservation Foundation for Rare Aquatic Species of Indonesia (YK-RASI), knows this scene well. She suspects climate change is behind the sudden water level fluctuations that catch the dolphins unawares. Local fishermen report such strandings to her to be rescued with the help of her colleagues and enthusiastic community volunteers. “There is a lot of motivation in the local community to help the dolphins,” she says. “Together, we have halved dolphin mortality by saving stranded dolphins and releasing them from fishermen’s gillnets.” While organizations like YK-RASI strive to safeguard the dolphins, industrial expansion and extractive industries encroach further inland from the coast in Indonesia’s rapidly developing East Kalimantan province. Few natural habitats are safe from impact, and recent studies suggest the province’s dolphin populations are buckling under the pressure of development. The Mahakam River meanders 980 kilometers (610 miles) from its headwaters in the heart of Borneo’s lush, old-growth rainforest, where orangutans, rhinoceroses and elephants still co-exist. It…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer