News World Amazon's pink dolphins threatened by end of fishing ban

Amazon’s pink dolphins threatened by end of fishing ban

The Amazon river dolphin is an intelligent and friendly mammal that appears to grin and flush like a human blushing when it gets excited.

But some are concerned about the world’s largest freshwater dolphin coming under threat again in Brazil, where fishermen hunt and kill it illegally to make bait for a catfish called piracatinga.

A legal moratorium on fishing the piracatinga ended last month, prompting calls for its renewal from environmentalists and researchers such as biologist Vera da Silva, who has worked to preserve the so-called pink river dolphins for 25 years.

“I never stop being amazed by them. They are fascinating animals,” Silva said as her team used a net to bring in dolphins to be examined, measured, marked and released again in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve.

“We captured a dolphin mother and her calf today and saw them calling out to each other. They have a very strong relation until the calf becomes independent after three years,” she said.

Like others dolphins, they make whistling sounds through blowholes to communicate underwater.

What sets them apart is a slow transformation from gray to pink as they age. Behaviour and exposure to sunlight also influence colour changes in the “boto vermelho” or “red dolphin,” as the creatures are known in Brazil. They can turn as bright pink as a flamingo.

Their active courting and mating gave rise to a legend in the Amazon that the pink dolphin morphs into a handsome man at night to seduce village women.

The Mamirauá reserve, run by the Amazon research institute INPA, spans 11,000-square km (4,300-square miles) of flooded rainforest and wetlands and is located three days up the Amazon by boat from Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state.

With their elongated beaks tied carefully, the dolphins are brought to a floating research center in the Mamirauá reserve, where members of Silva’s team take blood samples and use a syringe to suction milk from dolphin mothers for testing.

A dolphin’s pregnancy typically lasts 13 months and then it feeds a calf underwater for two years. Due to the long nursing period, females only reproduce every three to five years, Silva said.

That makes them more vulnerable to extinction if their population is depleted. Prosecutors in Amazonas state, who asked for the catfish ban in 2015, warned then that as many as 2,500 dolphins were being killed each year for bait.

Though they are relatively abundant, and found across South America’s vast Amazon and Orinoco river basins, Silva fears the Amazon dolphins could disappear like the Yangtze river dolphin did in China in 2006, following years of overfishing and pollution.

“We don’t want the dolphins to become just a legend of Amazonia,” Silva said.


Top Stories

Searches for 70 year old woman missing at sea suspended due to bad weather

Searches to find a 70 year old woman missing off the Phiikoudes beach in Larnaca have been suspended due to extremely bad weather conditions...

Tourist arrivals plunge by 84% in 2020 in one of Cyprus’ worst tourist seasons due to Covid

Tourist arrivals in Cyprus reached a mere 631,609 plunging by 84.1% year on year in one of the worst ever season for Cyprus’ tourist...

Germany demands release of Kremlin critic Navalny

Germany on Monday demanded the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, detained on Sunday on his return to Russia, and said it would discuss...

Memorial for COVID-19 victims in Washington

Thousands of U.S. flags are seen at the National Mall, as part of a memorial paying tribute to the more than 200,000 people nationwide...

Snow and fog in Troodos, roads open only to 4WD

Police are warning drivers heading to Troodos to be careful because of snow and fog. The Karvounas-Troodos, Platres-Troodos and Prodromos Troodos roads are open only...


Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...


No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...