Peru: Significant population recorded in first dolphin census

Realizan primer censo de delfines en ríos Huallaga y Marañón. Foto: Sebastián Castañeda/ WWF Perú

13:02 | Lima, Jul. 11.

Wildlife experts from Peruvian NGO Pro Delphinus and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Peru conducted the first dolphin census in rainforest Huallaga and Marañon Rivers, two Amazon River tributaries, WWF Peru informed.

The study sought to determine the population of dolphins living in the lower basin of Marañon River, in Alto Amazonas-Yurimaguas and Datem del Marañon provinces (northeastern Loreto region). 

The scientific expedition was led by Pro Delphinus cetacean expert Elizabeth Campbell and WWF Peru Science Director Jose Luis Mena.

The team combed over 300 km of Huallaga and Amazon Rivers for three days, recording the presence of a rich dolphin population.

"It is the first survey of this kind in this area of Loreto," underlined WWF Peru Science Director and biologist Jose Luis Mena. 

Peru is home to two out of the world's five dolphin species: the pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) and the tucuxi or grey dolphin (Sotalia fluviatilis).

Dolphins under threat

According to the research, pink dolphins are the ones facing most threats, since they are used "as catfish bait in fishing areas like Requena, Caballococha and Bagazan in Loreto, as well as Calleria in Ucayali," Pro Delphinus' cetacean specialist Elizabeth Campbell indicated.

But the biggest hazard is posed by net fishing and potential hydroelectric power projects in Amazonian regions.

A Conservation Strategy Fund study conducted in Peru revealed Amazon dolphins' migration would be severely disturbed if the said energy ventures were to be realized. 

However, Campbell said the team spotted "specimens of both [dolphin] species sharing fishing spaces with the local population," which is proof that "the dolphins in this vast Marañon basin area are in good condition."

Census results are to be released in coming days. 


Published: 7/11/2017
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