Ecology behaviour and conservation of the La Plata Dolphin (Pontoporia Blainvillei) in Northern Patagonia, Argentina

Pablo Bordino

The La Plata dolphin or Franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei) is endemic to the coastal waters of the central western South Atlantic (Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina) and one of the rarest and most poorly known South American dolphins. This team of Argentineans from Fundación Cethus and the Universidad de Buenos Aires will work in the Northern Patagonian Natural Reserve to assess the Dolphin's status, ecology and behaviour in Bahia Anegada and implement a conservation campaign aimed at fishermen and local people. In the longer term the project team intends to resolve and improve protection laws for this species in Argentina.

Project update: 21/3/97. This ongoing project is studying the threatened and secretive La Plata Dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) in Argentina, between 1997 and 1999. The Research Team, composed of Argentinian scientists, presented preliminary results at the 3rd Workshop on the Biology and Conservation of the La Plata Dolphin in Buenos Aires. A paper has been submitted for review to the International Wildlife Commission and others were to be presented at the 1998 Conference on Latin American Aquatic Mammals Specialist Society. A first approach to studying the population status of the dolphin in Bahia Anegada was made in 1997-1998. Encounter rate and abundance were estimated from both motor and sailboats using strip and line transects. The Research Team included many motivated volunteers in 1997. In 1998, new colleagues joined the team while others left to pursue other work (P. Bordino in litt. 1998). A leaflet on the dolphin was made with the help of the Secretary for the Human Environment and Sustainable Resources. The Secretary for Environmental Policy of the Buenos Aires Province proposed the San Blas - Bahia Anegada zone for Ramsar status (M. Iñiguez in litt. 1998).