The Atlantic off Rio de Janeiro is home to a dwindling population of Guiana dolphins. They urgently need protection – if they continue drowning in fishing nets at the present rate, they will be wiped out in a few short years. Tell Brazil’s policymakers that the world is looking toward Rio and demands an end to the killing.
An environmental tragedy is unfolding in the waters off Rio de Janeiro. In an average month, ten Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis) drown in fishing nets in Sepetiba Bay. Noise from ships, pollution and overfishing are further threats. At this rate, the local population of around 800 dolphins could be wiped out in the foreseeable future.
No one knows exactly how threatened the Guiana dolphins are as a species – their habitat theoretically extends from Nicaragua to southern Brazil. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which publishes the Red List of endangered species, not enough data is available to assess their status.
While the boto-cinza, as the dolphins are known locally, are a symbol of Rio and feature on its coat of arms, the city has done nothing to ensure their protection.
Social movements and environmentalists have been casting a harsh light on Brazil and the Olympics: the city of Rio de Janeiro has displaced people for the games, built a golf course in a nature reserve and failed to put sewage treatment plants into operation – letting raw sewage flow into the polluted waters of Guanabara Bay, the venue of the Olympic sailing competition. The athletes will soon return home, but the dolphins’ struggle for survival will keep grinding on.
The environmental NGO Sea Shepherd Legal has launched a petition to protect the Guiana dolphins in Sepetiba Bay. It calls for policymakers and local authorities to enact a wide range of measures to ensure their survival. Please give it your support.