River dolphin population assessment in Yarinacocha Lagoon, Peru

Elizabeth Campbell

River dolphins in Peru are under protected status and have been studied for several years in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, Iquitos. However, little is known of their occurrence in non-reserve areas. Threats to these dolphins outside protected areas include habitat loss, fisheries interactions and exploitation for medicinal purposes. This project will document habitat use with boat-based transects that will give information on population status, density, distribution of the two river dolphins, Boto (Inia geoffrensis) and Tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis), in Yarina lagoon, located adjacent to Pucallpa, second largest city in the Peruvian Amazon. The objectives of this project are to document dolphin population and distribution and to raise awareness of dolphin conservation among local government, tour operators, fishermen, boats for transport and general users. Community awareness will be done by giving presentations about river dolphins and will be sharing project results with the stakeholders. We hope to develop and disseminate baseline information about river dolphins in Yarina Lagoon and provide this data to be used as a guide when preparing river dolphin management plans. We also hope to increase the connection and the care of the local community with dolphins, resulting in improved and responsible tourism in the area.