More than 100 dead freshwater dolphins have been discovered in the Brazilian Amazon amid an extremely dry period. The Mamirauá research institute said the dead animals were found in Lake Tefé over the past week. The exact cause of death still needs to be determined. However, it can be assumed that it is related to the current heat and drought in the region. Water temperatures of over 39 degrees were recently measured in the lake.

“We are now trying to capture and rescue some of the animals that are still alive. First, we will analyze their health status, take blood samples and check their vital parameters to better understand what is happening,” said the coordinator of the aquatic mammal research group of the Instituto Mamirauá, Miriam Marmontel, on Sunday on the radio. “Then we can decide what to do with these animals, how to improve their situation and whether we can do something to stop them from continuing to die here in the lake.”

The Amazon region is currently suffering from high temperatures and a severe drought. Many rivers in the region carry significantly less water than the average of previous years. The normal dry season is currently being reinforced by El Niño. The weather phenomenon, which occurs every few years, causes more dryness and heat in the north of Brazil, among other places.

Hydroelectric power plants and mercury protection

Amazon river dolphins are the largest river dolphins. They grow to around 2 to 2.5 meters tall and weigh 85 to 185 kilograms. “The Amazon river dolphins face numerous pressures, such as the effects of hydroelectric power plants, mercury pollution and conflicts with humans,” said Mariana Paschoalini Frias of the environmental organization WWF. Now these freshwater dolphins are even more directly affected by the climate problem. “We must take effective protective measures immediately.” In the long term, more research is needed to find out how animals are affected by climate change and water reduction.

In the Brazilian state of Amazonas, the government has declared a state of emergency for 17 of the 62 districts over the past few days, and a further 38 have been placed on alert. The authorities distributed drinking water, basic food and hygiene products in the affected areas. There should also be support for farmers and fishermen in the region.

Brazil has recently suffered from a series of extreme weather events. Just a few weeks ago, around 30 people were killed in floods following severe storms in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in the south of the country. “What is happening in Rio Grande do Sul and now in the state of Amazonas shows how extreme weather events are already affecting us in frightening and dramatic ways,” said Environment Minister Marina Silva.