In the waters of Brazil, lives the pink dolphin, and they are under serious threat due to slaughter by fishermen wanting to catch them to use as fishing bait. Also known as the Amazon river dolphin, pink river dolphin, or boto, this dolphin’s flesh is hooked on as bait to catch a type of catfish species called piracatinga. What?!
Piracatinga is a carnivorous fish that’s attracted in large numbers to dead animal carcass in the river. However, this catfish is not sought after as food in Brazil, most of the fish is exported on the international market with Colombia being the biggest consumer. Why do the people of Brazil not care to eat piracatinga? Because, although a good janitor for the ecosystem, they eat dead, rotting animal flesh, even drowned humans if they come upon a body in the river, and Brazil does not want to consume such a fish.
So what we gather from this is that lovely creatures such as the rare pink dolphin are killed in high numbers each year to be carved up just to catch a bottom-feeder fish that feeds on decomposing river matter, known as the “water vulture,” in order to sell said fish to other countries for consumption? Brazil will not eat the fish, yet it is them, their environment, and a rare local dolphin paying the price. But there is hopeful news on the horizon as Brazil’s government has placed a temporary ban on fishing for piracatinga in an effort to stop the killing of the Amazon pink dolphin to be used as bait!
“That should give us enough time to find an alternative bait for the piracatinga,” said Utimo Valadares, ministry spokesman, on the five-year moratorium on fishing piracatinga.
In the Mamiraua Reserve, more than 1,500 freshwater dolphins are killed annually. Therefore, the news is greatly welcomed by Nivia do Campo, president of an environmental activist group in the northern jungle state of Amazonas, who studies the pink dolphin in the area.
With a population near 13,000 dolphins living in the reserve, Nivia said the number of pink dolphins living on the reserve drops by about 10 percent each year, ever since fishermen started slaughtering them for bait in 2000.
Pink dolphins are said to be one of the most intelligent, most beautiful dolphins in the entire world. Like other dolphins, they are typically friendly, and have a brain capacity 40 percent larger than that of humans — it’s no wonder animal activist and environmental groups are so passionate.
Nivia goes on to say the pink dolphin is under threat, “and if nothing is done to stop the killing it will become extinct. That is why the moratorium is excellent news. It will allow us to discover other baits fishermen can and continue earning money selling piracatinga.”
Image source: Mark Carwardine/Getty Images