Deaths of 120 Amazon dolphins linked to severe drought, high temperatures

The carcasses of 120 river dolphins have been found floating in a tributary of the Amazon River in Brazil over the last week in circumstances that experts suspect were caused by severe drought and heat.

Experts believe high water temperatures are the most likely cause of the deaths as temperatures since last week have exceeded 39˚C (102˚F) in the Tefe Lake region.

Amazon river dolphins, many of a striking pink colour, are a unique freshwater species found only in the rivers of South America and are one of a handful of freshwater dolphin species left in the world.

Slow reproductive cycles make their populations especially vulnerable to threats.

Marmontel said roughly eight of every 10 carcasses being found are pink dolphins, which are called “boto” in Brazil, and could represent 10 percent of their estimated population in Lake Tefe.