Wednesday, August 26, 2009

River Spirits

Signs that the wet season in the upper Amazon (starting in Iquitos, Peru) has started are the flooded rivers and luring freshwater dolphins swimming through the trees.

Unlike marine dolphins, botos (Amazon dolphins) have fat foreheads, elongated beaks and neck vertebrae that allow them to bend at up to a 90-degree angle, these facilitate grasping fish from unraveled branches, digging in river mud for crustaceans, and gliding through trees.

The Amazonian folk wisdom describes botos as encantados (enchanted beings who sometimes take on human form, coming out of the river to lead men and women into their magical underwater city.)

Unfortunately, boto population in the Amazon has declined by half over the past seven years. There is an urgent need to establish conservation policies to avoid fishermen hunting botos for bait or killing them accidentally in their gill nets.

To read more

Photograph by Kevin Schafer

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