Research Group

Amazonian Aquatic Mammals

This research group is dedicated to studying biological, ecological and demographic characteristics of 5 aquatic mammal species in Amazonia (manatee, river dolphin, pink river dolphin, giant otter and river otter). Themes include: reproduction, feeding habits, genetics, parasitology, habitat use and availability and animal health. The group also studies how local communities interact with these animals, including hunting patterns, environmental education and management. 

Get to know some of the fish studied by the group:

Amazonian manatee
André Dib
is an exclusively fresh water species found in rivers and lakes of the Amazon Basin. The Amazonian manatee is a member of the Sirenia order with a solitary habit; these animals feed on algae, water lilies and other vegetation (like needle-grass), which grow on the margins of water bodies. 
River dolphin
Marcelo Ismar Santana

is a fresh water river dolphin that lives in Amazonia in groups, feeding on fish. They are very active animals and are commonly seen when they rise to water surface, emerging partially or entirely jumping out of the water. They have small bodies compared to pink river dolphins and a torpedo shape, with a long beak and a well-developed dorsal fin. 

Pink river dolphin
Marcelo Ismar Santana
are the largest freshwater dolphins in the world, measuring from 2 to 2.5 meters long, varying in color from greyish tones to pink. On the top of its head, it sports a body part called a “melon” used for bio sonar. It is generally a solitary animal and feeds primarily on fish. 
Giant otter
Marcelo Ismar Santana

is a semi-aquatic animal endemic to South American, widely distributed throughout Amazonia and popularly known as the “water jaguar.” Giant otters are predators who feed during the day in groups, which are commonly seen on river margins. Their diet consists of: some aquatic reptiles, eggs and some small mammals. 

River otters

is also a semi-aquatic mammal and is predator with a hydrodynamic body. Because of these similarities it is generally confused with the Giant otter. However, river otters are smaller, measuring about 1.20 m. These animals are nocturnal, found inside and outside of the Americas, and mainly eat fish. 

© André Dib

A group that aligns research and innovation

The Amazonian Aquatic Mammal Research Group uses new tools, such as drones in population studies, to conserve dolphins in the Mamirauá and Amanã reserves. In partnership with WWF-Brazil, researchers have been marking dolphins with satellite tags and using side scanning sonar to obtain images (and eventually estimates) of manatees in turbid waters. 


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