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Twelve Peruvian researchers traveled on a scientific expedition to study more than 500 river dolphins in Ucayali

  • At the beginning of November, a scientific expedition departed from Pucallpa (Ucayali) to Nauta (Loreto).
  • We recorded 541 dolphins along 985 km.
Join Solinia Association, the Amazon Rescue Center (CREA), and the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute (IIAP), WWF-Peru executed a scientific expedition to study the dolphin population in the Ucayali River. 12 researchers worked together in those activities.
The river dolphins are the Amazon river’s ambassadors just like jaguars in the forests. They are very important in ecological, socio-economic, and cultural aspects for local communities in the Amazon basin. The Peruvian Amazon inhabits two species of river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) and the gray dolphin (Sotalia fluviatilis). Both are top predators, and their presence is a good indicator of the river’s conservation status.
However, the Amazon region whose rivers the dolphins inhabit faces serious threats due to high-impact activities, such as mining and illegal logging, that destroy their habitats. But the dolphins faced their threats, such as bycatch or directed capture. Consequently, the populations of these species are frequently affected.
The researchers navigated from Pucallpa to the confluence with the Marañón and Amazon rivers for seven days. Fabiola La Rosa from WWF Peru pointed out that their objective was to identify and visually record the pink dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) and the gray dolphin (Sotalia fluviatilis):  "The collected data, will help us to estimate and determine their conservation status. Also, if the dolphins increase or decrease over time, and the factors that condition their well-being”.
In the 985 km of navigation, they got 352 observations of 541 dolphins registered: 219 pink (Inia geoffrensis) and 322 grays (Sotalia fluviatilis), they also identified 18 pups. Due to the long distances, they cover, they are species widely related to free-flowing rivers. "Knowing the state of the river dolphin populations allows us to have a better health and river functionality diagnosis. Also, allows us to know the activities and conditions that put at risk dolphins and the Amazon”, Fabiola pointed out.

Working together!

This experience would not be possible without Solinia Association, CREA, IIAP organizations, and volunteers such as Juliane Hahne from Germany, and Nicolas Farroñay from Iquitos city, on board the expedition. Fabiola highlighted that their participation was great and help to extend this network of interested people in conservation.
Talking about the importance of river dolphins Cédric Gilleman, project coordinator of Solinia Association, commented: “River dolphins are part of our ancestral, cultural, and environmental heritage. Myths and legends are passed from generation to generation to keep their presence alive in Amazonian voices. Their protection is our duty as human beings, we share the same planet and the same environment. Together we love the river! Cedric said.
The collaboration between researchers allowed them to improve the work with these emblematic species. Freddy Arévalo, IIAP Researcher in Natural Protected Areas and Ecotourism, added: “We worked in a highly coordinated manner; both before, during, and after the expedition. I must say that more specialized studies and for future monitoring.
Carlos Perea, CREA's Co-Founder and Wildlife Coordinator, mentioned "Inter-institutional work is essential for this purpose and must be consolidated for future expeditions”.
Working together is a key action to contribute to the conservation of these species at a national and international level, South America river dolphin initiative lets us do it. We, want to develop priority actions linked to the present and future of these species. Together it is Possible!