Globe Live Media, Wednesday, January 27, 2021
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) included the gray dolphin in the category “in danger” due to the serious risk of disappearance of the species that lives in the waters of the Amazon River and some of its tributaries in four countries in South America, reported an environmental organization.
The endangered category, which places the gray or tucuxi dolphin among the most threatened in the world and sets off alarms for its preservation, is two notches below extinction, said Fernando Trujillo, scientific director of the Omacha Foundation that seeks conservation and the sustainable use of aquatic and terrestrial species in Colombia and South America.
The species was at the same level as the pink dolphin, which two years ago was placed in the “endangered” category, the expert revealed.
“We were analyzing for months with several scientists and we realized that the gray dolphin shares exactly the same threats and the scale of these threats is very large currently in the Amazon and the Orinoco,” Trujillo, a marine biologist, told Globe Live Media on Tuesday.
“For this reason it was classified as endangered and this means that all the freshwater dolphins in South America and those in Asia are all very threatened,” added the expert, a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences.
Gray dolphins inhabit the Amazon River basin in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. In Colombia they are also found in the Caquetá, Apaporis and Putumayo rivers, according to the Omacha Foundation research.
The main risks for dolphins in South America are accidental catches in fishing nets, mercury contamination derived from illegal gold mining and the loss of connectivity of rivers due to the construction of hydroelectric plants, mainly in Brazil, Trujillo denounced.
The fragmentation of rivers reduces nutrients and threatens to collapse the entire aquatic system of the Amazon, according to the expert for whom colonization and deforestation is another threat to species such as river dolphins because it prevents fruits and insects from falling into rivers interrupting the food chain of cetaceans.
Although a consolidated count of the gray dolphin is not available in the four South American countries where it has been detected, Trujillo estimated that the species does not exceed 30,000 animals in the entire Amazon River basin.
“This is a small number considering the size of the Amazon. These species are in danger and could become critically endangered, which is already the last stage before extinction. We have many species in the region that are in these conditions and we have to take actions because if they cannot disappear in 20 or 30 years “, concluded the expert.
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