June 12, 2024

River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis, Sotalia fluviatilis) Mortality Events Attributed to Artisanal Fisheries in the Western Brazilian Amazon


Verónica Iriarte and Miriam Marmontel


Abstract: In the Western Brazilian Amazon, interactions of boto (Inia geoffrensis) and tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis) dolphins with fishing activities are common, but the prevalence of incidental/intentional catches is not known. This article describes incidental mortality events and intentional killing of I. geoffrensis and S. fluviatilis entangled in artisanal fishing gear and the opportunistic use of carcasses as bait. Between October 2010 and November 2011, surveys were conducted in waters of the lower Japurá River, between the Mamirauá and Amanã sustainable development reserves. In order to obtain information on interactions and to try to establish a stranding/entanglement response program (SERP), informal conversations were exchanged with local inhabitants (n = 174). Intense carcass-search surveys (n = 171) along the river in the four hydrological seasons (e.g., low, rising, high, and falling waters) were conducted, comprising a total of 1,197 h of sampling effort. Twenty-five dolphin–fishing interaction events were recorded (11 I. geoffrensis and 14 S. fluviatilis), 19 in 2011 and six in 2012 (through SERP). A total of 11 necropsies (three I. geoffrensis and eight S. fluviatilis) were performed. Four individuals (two I. geoffrensis and two S. fluviatilis) exhibited evidence of physical violence before death, and two (one I. geoffrensis and one S. fluviatilis) died in abandoned gillnets. Two intentional killing events of I. geoffrensis incidentally entangled for bait use in the piracatinga (Calophysus macropterus) fishery were reported by fishermen, while three carcasses (two I. geoffrensis and one S. fluviatilis) with gillnet marks were also used in that activity. At least six of the S. fluviatilis entanglement events occurred in fishing gear used for tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum) and pirapitinga (Piaractus brachypomus) (90/100-mm mesh-size gillnet), two of the most important commercial fish species in the Amazon Basin. As seasonal fishing constitutes the main income for riverine human populations, the negative reactions that cetacean presence causes to people could have a catalyst effect for the transition from “incidental capture” to “intentional capture and competitor removal.” Law enforcement and precautionary measures through good fishing practices inside dolphin critical foraging areas should be taken together with fisheries’ managers and fishermen to start to develop multiple-species management and ensure sustainable fishing practices.

Key Words: boto, Inia geoffrensis, tucuxi, Sotalia fluviatilis, incidental capture, gillnet, intentional killing, piracatinga, Calophysus macropterus

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.39.2.2013.116

Page Numbers: 116-124

Info SKU: Vol__39__Iss__2__Iriarte Category: