This 'smiling' dolphin is being hunted into extinction

The nearly extinct "smiling" Irrawaddy dolphins continue to get hunted in Myanmar's waters by illegal fishermen.

According to AFP, water pollution and electrofishing — where people use car batteries to shock the dolphins — are chiefly responsible for the dolphins' deaths.

The smiley dolphin can generally be found In the seas of India and northeastern Australia, but there are freshwater subpopulations in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Cambodia and Laos.

Check out the strangely adorable creatures below:

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Irrawaddy dolphins
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Irrawaddy dolphins
An Irrawaddy dolphin is seen at Chilika Lagoon in the eastern Indian state of Orissa February 25, 2006. Hope is rising the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin can be saved in India after a survey showed more of the animals than before in a vast, brackish lagoon in the east of the country. Picture taken February 25, 2006. To match feature INDIA-DOLPHINS/. REUTERS/Dipani Sutaria/Handout (INDIA). EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
An Irrawaddy dolphin, also known as the Mekong dolphin, swims in the river at Kampi village in Kratie province, 230 km (143 miles) northeast of Cambodia, March 25, 2007. Cambodia's rare Mekong dolphin is making a tentative comeback from the edge of extinction after net fishing was banned in its main habitat, Cambodian and World Wildlife Fund officials said earlier this month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE
Photo Credit: EPA
Photo Credit: EPA
Photo Credit: EPA
An Irrawaddy dolphin, also known as the Mekong dolphin, swims in the river at the Kampi village in Kratie province, 230 km (143 miles) northeast of Cambodia, March 24, 2007 .Cambodia's rare Mekong dolphin is making a tentative comeback from the edge of extinction after net fishing was banned in its main habitat, Cambodian and World Wildlife Fund officials said earlier this month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
An Irrawaddy dolphin sports a cowboy hat while performing tricks at the Oasis Sea World marine park in Chantaburi Thailand. An Irrawaddy dolphin sports a cowboy hat while performing tricks at the Oasis Sea World marine park in Chantaburi, nearly 290 km (190 miles) southeast of Bangkok in this picture taken September 26, 2004. Conservationists say irrawaddy dolphins, along with lions and tigers, are among the most sought after items on the black market, with the demand for the species threatening their survival. Irrawaddy dolphins, among other wild animals and plants, will be a focus of the 13th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to be held in Bangkok starting October 2. Picture taken September 26, 2004. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
An Irrawaddy dolphin jumps through hoops at the Oasis Sea World marine park in Chantaburi, nearly 290 km (190 miles) southeast of Bangkok in this picture taken September 26, 2004. Conservationists say irrawaddy dolphins, along with lions and tigers, are among the most sought after items on the black market, with the demand for the species threatening their survival. Irrawaddy dolphins, among other wild animals and plants, will be a focus of the 13th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to be held in Bangkok starting October 2. Picture taken September 26, 2004. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom AL/SH
An Irrawaddy dolphin (R) performs with two pink dolphins at the Oasis Sea World marine park in Chantaburi, nearly 290 km (190 miles) southeast of Bangkok on December 20, 2003. The park was raided by Thai officials a day earlier, who were looking for evidence it had sold five pink dolphins to a Singapore water park using fake papers claiming the dolphins were bred in captivity. Pink dolphins, also known as Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, are among the world's most endangered species. REUTERS/Adrees Latif AL
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The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) considers the dolphin "vulnerable" to extinction, and Burmese officials believe there are only 62 Irrawaddy dolphins in Myanmar, after a record three were killed last year.

But in neighbouring Laos, the Irrawaddy dolphins is already "functionally extinct" — when a species is no longer able to reproduce or sustain itself before ultimate extinction. Only three were counted in the wild in an October 2016 survey.

Electrofishing may be banned in Myanmar, with a fine of 200,000 kyat (USD $150) — relatively stiff in a country where average wage is roughly $5,900 per year — but poachers continue to practice it.

The dolphins are also trapped in gillnets, which are permitted in Myanmar and Laos. The WWF said the dolphins caught in gillnets often drown as a consequence.

Add that to pollution from gold mining in Kachin state, up the Irrawaddy river, and it's easy to see why the dolphins stand no chance against human activity.

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