In the last few months, more than 100 pink river dolphins have been found dead in the Amazon area, possibly because of a historic drought and all-time high water temperatures. Many of the dolphins dead were found in Lake Tefé, Amazonas, Brazil, having died in late September when temperatures exceeded 39C, according to the Mamirauá Institute.
A spokesman of the institute said to the Express, “It’s still early to determine the cause of this extreme event but according to our experts, it is certainly connected to the drought period and high temperatures in Lake Tefé.” Researchers are also looking into possible disease and sewage contamination of the Amazon as potential causes of the unusual deaths.
Daniel Tregidgo, a British researcher who lives near Lake Tefé, said, “The past month in Tefé has seemed like a science-fiction climate-change scenario. Regular sightings of pink river dolphins are one of the great privileges of living in the heart of the Amazon. Pretty much every time I go to the market to have breakfast I see them come to the surface and it reminds me why I live here. To know that one has died is sad, but to see piles of carcasses, knowing that this drought has killed over 100, is a tragedy.”
They are one of only six existing freshwater dolphin species left in the world, and the Amazonian pink river dolphins are classed as endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
In August, Brazil’s new President Lula da Silva pledged a “new Amazon dream” in a bid to repair economic plundering and environmental devastation incentivised by the previous administration. Between 2019 and 2022, deforestation across Brazil soared under the then-president Jair Bolsonaro, with cattle ranching being the number one cause (the very same industry that is significantly increasing the temperature of the planet).