Behaviour of Sotalia guianensis (van Bénéden, 1864) (Cetacea, Delphinidae) and ethnoecological knowledge of artisanal fishermen from Canavieiras, Bahia, Brazil

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Artisanal fishermen, because of their direct and frequent contact with the aquatic environment, possess a wealth of knowledge about the natural history of the fauna of the region in which they live. This knowledge, both practical and theoretical, has been frequently utilized and integrated into academic research. Taking this into consideration, this study discusses the ethnoecological knowledge of artisanal fishermen from a community in Canavieiras, state of Bahia, Brazil regarding the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis), a typically costal member of the family Delphinidae that is little studied in this region. To this end, the behaviour of S. guianensis in Canavieiras was recorded over one year and the data obtained were compared with fishermen's reports. A total of 609 hours of behavioural observations of S. guianensis was conducted from a fixed point in alternate morning and afternoon sessions between October 2009 and September 2010. Observations were conducted from a pier (15°40'59" S and 38°56'38" W) situated on the banks of the Pardo River estuary - the region's main river - at 5.5 m above water level. For ethnoecological data collection, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 26 fishermen in May, June and September 2010 and January 2011 in the fishing community of Atalaia. Occasional boat expeditions were made with the fishermen to compare their reports with direct observations of the behaviour of S. guianensis. The results demonstrate that fishermen possess a body of knowledge about S. guianensis that describes in detail the main behavioural aspects of the species. They reported the presence of S. guianensis in the Pardo River estuary throughout the year and its gregarious behaviour. They cited a relationship between the movement of dolphins and tidal cycles, and their presence in the estuary associated with the search for food. In addition, the fishermen reported that numbers of infants in groups were proportional to group size. Behaviours described were compatible with the observations made in situ and with data found in the scientific literature, confirming the importance of traditional knowledge in complementing scientific data. One behaviour mentioned by the fishermen that had no equivalence in the scientific literature was confirmed in situ and, therefore, constitutes the first record for this species. © 2012 Costa et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Costa, M. E. B., Le Pendu, Y., & Neto, E. M. C. (2012). Behaviour of Sotalia guianensis (van Bénéden, 1864) (Cetacea, Delphinidae) and ethnoecological knowledge of artisanal fishermen from Canavieiras, Bahia, Brazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 8.

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