Dolphins are dying off in Brazil’s Amazon as water temperatures rise


More than 100 dolphins have been found dead in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest in the past week amid severe drought and hot water temperatures, according to reports.

The Mamirava Institute for Sustainable Development, funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, found dead dolphins in Lake Tefe over the past seven days. CNN reported. According to CNN, researchers believe the mass die-off is related to the Amazon’s current drought and recent triple-digit weather.

“It is still too early to determine the cause of this extreme event, but according to our experts, it is definitely linked to the drought period and the high temperature of Lake Tefe, some points of which have exceeded 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit),” the agency told the news agency.

In addition to dolphin mortality, Guardian Thousands of fish are also reported to have died in Lake Tefe.

The Amazon River is the world’s largest waterway and its basin is connected to the Amazon rainforest, renowned for its rich biodiversity, home to millions of species.

But human activity and extreme weather in the region have raised environmental concerns. The state of Amazonas declared an environmental emergency in September in response to historic drought and launched a $20 million response plan.

“Last month in Tefe seemed like a science fiction climate change scenario,” Daniel Trejitko, a British researcher who lives in the area, told The Guardian. “Seeing pink river dolphins on a regular basis is one of the great blessings of living in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. … It’s sad to know that one person has died, but to know that this drought has killed more than 100 people and to see the piles of corpses. A tragedy.”

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Millions of people could be affected

Around 500,000 people could be affected by the drought by the end of the year, Brazilian officials said. Many residents and indigenous people are already struggling to access essentials such as food and water.

The main mode of transportation in the region is waterways, but prolonged drought has resulted in historically low river levels. The drought has also affected the livelihood of many riverine communities through fishing.

The Amazonas state’s civil protection agency said in a statement in September that authorities would distribute food and water supplies and personal hygiene kits to help communities. According to Amazonas state governor Wilson Lima, the various levels of government will support the affected municipalities.

As of last week, 15 municipalities are under state of emergency and 40 municipalities are on alert, according to the Civil Defense Commission.

Climate change exacerbates droughts

According to the Civil Defense Authority, the drought is expected to be more severe and prolonged due to the El Niño climate phenomenon.

El Niño is a natural climate pattern where ocean waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean are warmer than usual for this time of year. This phenomenon can affect storms and weather patterns around the world, including preventing rain clouds from forming.

Climate change and warming are making droughts more frequent, longer and more severe. Warmer air increases evaporation during drought, reducing surface water and drying out soil and vegetation.

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Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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