Sea Shepherd Embarks on Long-Term Conservation Effort to Protect the Dolphins of the Amazon River

Conservationists and world-leading scientists initiate a new partnership in defense of the endangered Amazon river dolphins.

Manaus, Brazil – June 7, 2021 – Sea Shepherd is launching a new conservation research campaign in Brazil to protect the dolphins of the Amazon River. The scientific expedition, known as Boto Da Amazônia, was announced by Sea Shepherd’s founder, Captain Paul Watson, during a virtual event on June 5.

Sea Shepherd is partnering with scientists from the National Institute for Research in the Amazon, renowned for their expertise in the study of the Amazon river dolphin (Iniageoffrensis) and Tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis). The collaboration, which begins in October 2021, will contribute to the scientific body of research about these species and allow for greater environmental protections to be put in place. Both species are currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Studies show that the populations of both species are declining by approximately 50% every 9-10 years. Human activity is the primary threat to the survival of both river dolphins. Accidental entanglement in fishing nets, intentional hunting for pest control, and dam construction are all contributing factors to the loss of these animals. Most recently, poachers are capturing river dolphins to use as bait in the illegal fishing of piracatinga, a local species of scavenger fish protected by a fishing moratorium that is scheduled to be lifted in July 2021.

Boto Da Amazônia is the first long-term study to be carried out at multiple points along the Amazon river and will allow scientists to assess the true conservation status of the species. This three-year population study will consist of two expeditions per year, with observations taken at four points along the Amazon River. In total, the six expeditions will cover 3,000 km over 100 days of observation.

The Amazon River is the world’s main artery to the ocean, contributing 20% of all freshwater discharge to the world’s oceans. In the past, these iconic dolphins were protected by the myths and legends handed down across generations through the traditions of local indigenous groups. Today, these dolphins are viewed as pests by local fishermen.

Sea Shepherd’s Scientific Department collaborates with world-leading conservation researchers to study the ocean’s most vulnerable species and ecosystems. Through these partnerships, Sea Shepherd Science contributes to the body of scientific work needed to shape policy and enhance protections for all marine wildlife.

“I am very excited that Sea Shepherd Brazil is going on an expedition up the Amazon River,” said Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd’s founder. ” I believe it is very important, not only for Brazil, but on a global scale, to protect the Amazon dolphins.”

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