More than a hundred dolphins have been found dead in the Brazilian Amazon amid a historic drought and record water temperatures that in places exceeded 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
The dead dolphins were all found in Lake Tefé within the past seven days, according to the Mamirauá Institute, a research center funded by Brazil’s Science Ministry.
The institute said such a high number of deaths was unusual and suggested record lake temperatures and a historic drought in the Amazon could be the cause.
The news is likely to add to climate scientists’ concerns about the effects of human activity and extreme droughts on the region.
“It is still early to determine the cause of this extreme event, but according to our experts, it is certainly linked to the dry period and the high temperatures of Lake Tefé, some points of which exceed 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit)” , specifies the press release. ” the institute said in comments broadcast by CNN Brazil affiliate.
The Amazon River, the largest river in the world, is currently in the dry season and many riverine fauna are also suffering from record temperatures.
Researchers and activists are trying to save the surviving dolphins by moving them from lagoons and ponds on the outskirts to the main body of the river, where the water is cooler, CNN Brazil reported, but the operation is not not easy due to the remoteness of the area.
“Transferring river dolphins to other rivers is not very safe because it is important to check if toxins or viruses are present (before releasing the animals into the wild),” said André Coelho, a researcher at the Mamiraua Institute, at CNN Brazil.
The drought in the Amazon also has an impact on the economy.
Below-average water levels were reported in 59 municipalities in Amazonas state, hampering transportation and fishing activities on the river.
Authorities expect even more severe droughts in the coming weeks, which could lead to more dolphin deaths, CNN Brazil reported.