Both cetaceans in the Brazilian Amazon show sustained, profound population declines over two decades

Obligate river dolphins occur only in the rivers of Asia and South America, where they are increasingly subject to damaging pressures such as habitat degradation, food competition and entanglement in fishing gear as human populations expand. The Amazon basin hosts two, very different, dolphins—the boto or Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) and the smaller tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis). Both species have wide geographical ranges and were once considered to be relatively abundant. Their IUCN Red List conservation status of Data Deficient (DD), due to limited information on threats, ecology, population numbers and trends, did not initially cause alarm. However, the development of dolphin hunting to provide fish bait at around the beginning of this millennium broadly coincided with the onset of a widespread perception that numbers of both species were in decline. Consequently, the need for population trend data to inform conservation advice and measures became urgent. This paper presents a 22-year time series of standardised surveys for both dolphins within the Mamirauá Reserve, Amazonas State, Brazil.

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