Following an investigation by Brazilian wildlife authorities after complaints from World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) partners who were extremely concerned by a graphic video posted on-line, a local sports fisherman has been issued with infraction notices for dolphin molestation. After a tip off from Pete Garbett of the Facebook group Cetal Fauna, Sharyn Taylor, founder of Black Cove in Australia, and multiple WCA partners from around the globe sprang into action. The video and other photos posted on a commercial website, and various social media channels were quickly removed, but not before the evidence had been downloaded.
The disturbing video shows the fisherman reeling in the dolphin with a hook protruding from its rostrum. For eight minutes, the Boto is dragged around still attached by the hook and landed on the river bank. After a further two minutes of intensive manhandling and photo taking, the hook is cut off and the shocked animal finally released. At one point the animal panics and convulses, a high risk situation that can kill dolphins from the trauma.
According to Brazilian WCA partner, Luena Fernandes of Instituto Baleia Jubarte, this type of environmental crime is punishable by Brazilian law which prohibits fishing or any form of intentional harassment of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) in Brazilian waters. She states that ‘This is an extremely endangered and possibly new species, recently described in 2014 by scientists as the boto-do-Araguaia (Inia araguaiensis). If it is confirmed that this species is different from its Amazon relative (Inia geoffrensis), this makes it even more threatened, belonging to a population restricted to the Araguaia-Tocantins River Basin. If the animal was accidentally caught, every effort should have been made to remove the hook and release the animal as fast as possible, to minimize the stress’, says Fernandes. ‘This and all animal species should be treated with respect, dignity and compassion, especially when dealing with an animal so sensitive, intelligent and rare! We only hope that the dolphin survived this ordeal’.
Boto dolphins, being fish eaters, are often in conflict with fishermen stealing their bait & damaging their nets. The dolphins are often killed or injured by the angered fishermen. In this video, the fisherman slaps the dolphin saying “Slap on your bum so you learn to stop stealing our bait!”
The sports fisherman received three infraction notices, not only for molesting the dolphin, but also for capturing 13 species of Brazilian wild fauna including caimans, turtles, porcupine, starfish, and lizard. The third infraction was for exploiting an image of a wild animal in a molesting situation. The WCA urges members of the public to report any forms of cetacean abuse or harassment to their local authorities.