On the eve of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Sea Shepherd Legal launches a worldwide online petition to compel the government of Brazil to protect the last remaining Guiana dolphins in Rio de Janeiro before they go extinct.
The Guiana dolphin looks similar to the bottlenose dolphin but smaller. More inconspicuous than its counterparts, these cetaceans prefer to live in small groups of about two to 10 individuals.
Since 2003, Rio’s Guiana dolphin numbers have dropped by 40%. Nearly 10 Guiana dolphins are killed every month in fishing nets in the Bay of Sepetiba, in Rio. Today, there are less than 800 remaining and the Guiana dolphin may become extinct in just a few short years.
Additional threats include commercial illegal fishing, pollution, depletion of prey and habitat, ship traffic, port development and other coastal impacts.
“What we are fighting for here is to ensure that the Guiana dolphin doesn’t go the way of Mexico’s vaquita porpoise – a species moments away from extinction due to some of the same threats,” explained Sea Shepherd Legal’s Executive Director, Catherine Pruett. Scientists recently concluded that just 60 vaquita are left.
“With the spotlight on Rio for the summer Olympics, this represents a real opportunity for the government of Brazil to show the world that it is in tune with public sentiment and that it cares about wildlife, specifically the Guiana dolphin,” Pruett said.
Ironically, the flag of the city of Rio de Janeiro is an image of its coat of arms, supported by two dolphins. This flag was adopted in 1908. Now, 118 years later, Rio’s Guiana dolphin is desperate need of its own support.
The petition is addressed to the following responsible government agencies: the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, Instituto Estadual do State Institute of the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Federal Police – Ministry of Justice, Rio de Janeiro Port Authority, and Itacuruçá Port Authority.
This is part of a collaborative effort between Sea Shepherd Legal, two local NGOs and Brazil’s Federal Prosecutors office, which is working diligently to save the Guiana dolphin by pressing these agencies to take action.