More than a hundred dolphins have been found dead in the Brazilian Amazon amid a historic drought and record-breaking water temperatures that in some places have exceeded 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
All of the dead dolphins were found in Lake Tefé over the past seven days, according to the Mamirauá Institute, a research center funded by Brazil’s Ministry of Science.
The institute said such a high number of deaths was unusual and suggested that record lake temperatures and a historic drought in the Amazon could have been the cause.
The news is likely to increase climate scientists’ concerns about the effects that human activity and extreme droughts are having on the region.
“It is still early to determine the cause of this extreme phenomenon, but according to our experts, it is undoubtedly related to the period of drought and high temperatures in Lake Tefé, in which some points exceed 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit ),” he added. the institute said in comments published by CNN Brazil affiliate CNN Brazil.
The Amazon River, the largest waterway in the world, is currently in the dry season and several river fauna are also suffering from record temperatures.
Researchers and activists are trying to rescue the surviving dolphins by transferring them from lagoons and ponds on the outskirts to the main body of the river, where the water is colder, CNN Brazil reported, but the operation is not easy due to the remoteness of the area.
“Transferring river dolphins to other rivers is not as safe because it is important to check if toxins or viruses are present (before releasing the animals into the wild),” André Coelho, a researcher at the Mamiraua Institute, told CNN Brazil.
The drought in the Amazon is also affecting the economy.
Below-average water levels have been reported in 59 municipalities in the state of Amazonas, preventing both transportation and fishing activities in the river.
Authorities expect even more acute droughts in the coming weeks, which could lead to more dolphin deaths, CNN Brazil reported.