What is an Amazon niche

Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis)

habitatall freshwater habitats of the great Amazon and Orinoco river systems (flooded forests, reed areas, streams, lakes, rivers, lagoon systems)
Geographical distributionCatchment area of ​​the Amazon and Orinocos, Rio Madeira (distribution states: Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Guyana)
Endangerment statusIUCN: "Critically Endangered"
Stock sizeno total population figures known (estimates: tens of thousands of individuals)

The pink dolphin

The Amazon river dolphin - also called boto, pink river dolphin, or inia - belongs to the family of river dolphins (Iniidae) and to the subordination of toothed whales. It is found in almost all freshwater habitats associated with the major Amazon and Orinoco river systems. One of the three subspecies of the boto lives exclusively in the Rio Madeira, which is a tributary of the Amazon, but is separated from it by a series of waterfalls.

Amazon river dolphins are the largest river dolphins. They grow to be around 2 to 2.5 meters tall and weigh between 85 and 185 kilograms. Male river dolphins grow significantly larger than female ones. They have a narrow and long snout with whisker hairs, small eyes and, instead of a dorsal fin, a low crest or hump with a broad base. Botos are colored dark blue-gray on the top and pink on the underside of the body. The color of the animals varies depending on the age, sex and activity of the dolphin and the color of the water.

Botos are well adapted to life in the flooded jungle. They have an echo sounder bearing with which they can locate objects and prey in the often murky water of their habitats. They also have whiskers on their snouts. Furthermore, their very flexible neck enables them to move their head in all directions independently of the body. This enables them to chase fish between the roots and branches of flooded jungle giants. Up to 53 species of fish (including piranhas), river turtles and freshwater crabs can be found on its menu.

For many years the WWF has been drawing attention to the problem of overfishing, bycatch and the associated destruction of the marine environment. Since the beginning of 2005, the fishery for Alaska pollock, which is under US administration, has been certified with the MSC seal for a sustainable fishery. The MSC certification is viewed by the WWF as a solution to the protection and regeneration of fish stocks. Consumers can actively contribute to the protection of the seas through their purchasing behavior. Between January and the end of April and from June to the end of November, fishermen off Alaska are allowed to pull a total of one and a half million tons of pollock out of the water. This quota is a quarter below the scientifically determined upper catch limit. In addition, there is now a quota for bycatch.

The Amazon river dolphin is an endangered species of dolphin and is classified as "endangered" in the IUCN Red List. While the populations of each subspecies appear larger than previously thought, the trend is downward. The interaction with humans in its habitat brings increasing risks for the species. The threats to which the bot is exposed are varied. While the dolphin is not fussy, it prefers certain types of fish such as black pacu and giant pacu. However, fishermen in the region also target the latter two species. As a fish eater, the dolphin is persecuted as a competitor and pest, although the killing of Amazon river dolphins is prohibited in Brazil. It is also accidentally killed as bycatch. The remains of killed dolphins are then often used as bait for fishing. The river dolphin is increasingly being poached for this purpose only. This fishing method is becoming increasingly widespread in the central Amazon basin. The ongoing destruction of forests is also a major problem for the river dolphin. Because on the one hand it loses its habitat and its hunting areas in the rainy season. On the other hand, with deforestation, sediments are washed in, which can cause chemical changes in the water, which in turn leads to changes in the fish population. Other threat factors are the pollution of bodies of water with environmental toxins, for example high mercury concentrations have been detected in botos, and the construction of rivers, for example by dams. The latter not only cut up the habitat of the Amazon river dolphin, but also forever separate populations from one another.

The keeping and breeding of Amazon river dolphins usually do not end successfully and they are not an option for species protection. In captivity, botos usually reach an average age of only 33 months, although individual specimens lived for 10 to 30 years. Therefore, the WWF is committed to the preservation of habitats for the river dolphin. The latest satellite-based studies of movements of Amazon river dolphins show the importance of protected areas in the river systems of the Amazon and Orinocos for the survival of this species.