The Endangerment of Amazon Pink River Dolphins

By Olivia Pocat

Amazon river dolphins, also called pink river dolphins, are beautiful creatures from the freshwater of the Amazon. A 2018 study of different declining animal populations led to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to declare Amazon river dolphins as endangered on its “Red List”. The overall population of these sweet creatures has declined over 50% since the year 2000. According to research, there are only 2,000 of these dolphins left in the Amazonian area, which is the minimum number for these animals to sustain their population. These dolphins have become endangered due to many different factors. The increase of a human population along the river basins increases river traffic and accidental killings. Along with this comes the construction of dams and pluvial projects that damage their natural habitats. Another source of their endangerment is the use of their flesh and blubber as catfish bait which has become commercially available. These dolphins only produce one offspring every four-five years, which means that overfishing is disastrous to the decline of their population. Gold-mining activity in the area releases mercury into the water through the food chain of eating mercury affected catfish. 

Some research facilities such as the WWF help to protect the habitat of these mammals. The IUCN Red List lists these dolphins as data insufficient so researchers in Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia have coordinated a tri-national effort to tag, study, and track the dolphins. This helps in conducting different surveys and to determine their status and vulnerability. There has also been research on the effect of dams on the size and dispersal of dolphin populations.