Project »Franciscana Dolphin«

Our dolphin project - the La Plata dolphin or Franciscana toninha (Pontoporia blainvillei) is one of the smallest dolphin species and lives exclusively in the coastal waters of south-eastern South America. It is highly endangered and is now the most threatened dolphin species in South America. The main threat is fishing: thousands of animals die in drift and gillnets every year.

YAQU PACHA has been supporting the implementation of population studies with this dolphin project since 1996. The aim of these studies is to determine the total population. The only method for this is flight counting. Special aircraft are used to fly very low to spot and count the animals.

airplane flight count la plata dolphin franciscana pontoporia blainvillei plane

La Plata Dolphins Pontoporia blainvillei Toninha Toninhas GEMARS
Photo: Federico Sucunza – GEMARS

Another task of the researchers is to determine the bycatch rate. Thanks to observers on board fishing vessels, this data can be obtained. So far, four different "management areas" have been established. Each area is home to animals that are genetically related and whose conservation priorities are different due to the dangers to which the animals are exposed in each area.

In addition to the flight counts carried out in Uruguay in March and April 2023, YAQU PACHA is also working on the La Plata Dolphin project to establish pinger systems and objects, such as plastic bottles in the fishing nets, so that they can be recognized and avoided by the dolphins.

Franciscana Pinger Pet Bottles Fishing Nets Toninhas Species Conservation South America
Graphics: VIVA Instituto Verde Azul

Consórcio Franciscana

Consórcio Franciscana La Plata Delfin Toninha Pontoporia blainvillei

In 2012, the Consórcio Franciscana was founded with the support of YAQU PACHA.

The task of the Consórcio Franciscana is to promote the protection of the La Plata dolphin – Franciscana – Toninha and its habitat through international cooperation between research groups from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, as well as to publish and exchange research results.

YAQU PACHA e.V. supports these species conservation activities and coordinates important projects of the consortium.

> website of the Consórcio Franciscana

Many thanks to the following companies and institutions that supported us in setting up the website of the Consórcio Franciscana:

Bauer Kompressoren, Beluga, Lagona Divers, iQ Company, Mares, Marion Diving Suits, Mariscope, Quality Divers, Beautiful Diving, Scubapro, Seacam, Sinai Divers, Subal, Sub Aqua, Taucher.Net

Franciscana Baby dolphin Projeto Toninha Pontoporia blainvillei

YAQU PACHA CRAM FURG Species Conservation Projeto Toninha

Furthermore, our species conservation organization YAQU PACHA, together with our partners such as CRAM FURG in Brazil, takes care of the rescue and care of stranded La Plata dolphins - Toninhas and also for this work considerable sums of money are needed.

You can specifically support us in the rescue and rehabilitation of the La Plata dolphins – Franciscana.

Ethnobiology of the Franciscana dolphin – Toninha (Pontoporia blainvillei) and traditional knowledge of artisanal fishermen in Brazil

La Plata, Dolphin, Franciscana Toninha, Brazil, Research, Environmental Education, Species Conservation

Ethnobiology is a field of environmental science that encompasses the traditional knowledge of communities, their relationship to the environment, and their various cultural and spiritual expressions. Ethnobiological studies involving fishing communities are important because local fishermen's daily contact with dolphins can help monitor fishing activities and their impact on these animals. In this sense, these studies, which evaluate the perception of fishermen in relation to the La Plata dolphin – Toninha or Franciscana, seek to understand how fishing communities perceive these animals and how artisanal fishing affects the conservation of populations of this species.

La Plata Franciscana Toninha Brazil Environmental education Fisheries Species conservation South America

In this research and environmental education project, researchers from our partners ECOLOGIA HUMANA DO OCEANO determine the traditional knowledge of the interactions between La Plata Delfin – Franciscana – Toninha and fisheries in 10 fishing communities along Brazilian coastal waters from the northern limit of the species' range in the state of Espírito Santo to the Paranaguá area in the state of Paraná, Brazil (FMA areas Ia, Ib and IIa). The aim of the project is therefore to describe and compare the traditional knowledge of small-scale fishermen in the South Atlantic, which covers the species' range, in order to assess the interactions of the species with small-scale fisheries. In order to obtain this information, ethnographic interviews are conducted with the artisanal fishermen using an ethnographic questionnaire containing open-ended and closed-ended questions, and the entire fishing routine is recorded.

La Plata, dolphin, Brazil, environmental education, fisheries, pesca

The integration of data obtained empirically from local actors and with scientific methods is crucial for the protection of the La Plata dolphins – toninhas, as both sources provide relevant and complementary information for the management of fishing activities in the species' ranges. We can use this data to carry out environmental awareness campaigns together with stakeholders from fishing communities. Knowledge about the sea is promoted through the website of our partners ECOLOGIA HUMANA DO OCEANO and their YouTube channel , as well as through activities in public schools in the state of Espírito Santo, in southeastern Brazil.

YAQU PACHA has been active in species conservation in South America for 30 years together with our Latin America team to protect endangered species. You can support us in the protection of the La Plata dolphin by making a donation or membership .

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