2017-07-01 Amazon River Dolphin Field Research Update

After a week of collecting field data, Marie was invited to present at the local university, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana (UNAP), by the non-profit organization Solinia (https://solinia.org/). During this venue, various anthropogenic threats that impact both dolphin species inhabiting the Peruvian Amazon were discussed. Also, Marie presented about how bioacoustics was being used as a tool to ascertain information concerning dolphin populations. One example anthropogenic threat is the use of dolphins as bait in catfish traps. This practice seems to have originated in Brazil, but has now traveled up-river to the Iquitos, Peru region. It was estimated that 200 pink dolphins were killed locally last year to be used as bait in catfish traps. Not only are these dolphins easy targets as they are slow swimmers, but they are a preferred food source for the catfish. Due to this program, Marie has begun an initiative with the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana (http://www.iiap.org.pe/) to assess fish populations up to 170 km downriver from Iquitos, Peru. The intent is to investigate any possible trophic cascades associated with the removal of the top dolphin predators and the abundance of fish species desired by humans.  If it can be demonstrated that it is beneficial to protect the dolphins in order to sustain fish abundance, then it is possible to motivate the local people to protect the local dolphins, both pink and gray.