[MARMAM] Sotalia guianensis in Venezuela (Maracaibo Lake) - new article

Hector Barrios-Garrido PhD hbarriosg at gmail.com
Mon Feb 1 22:57:21 PST 2021

Dear readers,

We are glad to announce the last article published by our laboratory
(General Ecology at University of Zulia, Venezuela). Its title is: “Guiana
Dolphin (*Sotalia guianensis*) in the Maracaibo Lake System, Venezuela:
conservation, threats, and population overview.” This article was recently
published in Frontiers in Marine Science (Open Access) as part of the
research topic: Small cetaceans Conservation: Current Challenges and

We found that high levels of Guiana dolphin mortality is related to fishing
activities. However, there is a lack of standardized population assessments
to compare abundance, population trends, distribution, and
fisheries-related mortality of Guiana dolphins in the Maracaibo Lake
System. We encouraged more research efforts to have a better perspective
about all key-threat already identified in this aquatic system.


Barrios-Garrido, H.; De Turris-Morales, K.; Espinoza-Rodríguez, N. 2021. Guiana
Dolphin (*Sotalia guianensis*) in the Maracaibo Lake System, Venezuela:
conservation, threats, and population overview. Frontiers in Marine
Science, 594021. doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.594021


The Guiana dolphin (*Sotalia guianensis*) home range is located across
Central and South American countries, in coastal habitats in the Caribbean
and Atlantic Ocean. Its distribution is scattered, with multiple population
centers which are under threats that vary based on local realities. We
compiled and assessed biological data from multiple sources (published and
unpublished data) to improve our understanding regarding the Maracaibo Lake
Management Unit, which is an isolated and unique population core of this
species. We identified at least two distinguishable population centers
throughout the Maracaibo Lake System, one in the northern portion—in the
Gulf of Venezuela, and another in the southern portion of the Maracaibo
Lake itself. Both centers have differences in some biological aspects
(e.g., group size and habitat use), but similarities in the human-induced
pressures (e.g., intentional take, habitat degradation, and traditional
use). We detailed the uses of Guiana dolphin (consumptive and
non-consumptive) by community members, including the use as talismans for
indigenous fishers and consumption of its meat as a religious belief
(Easter period), and dolphin watching tours carried out by local companies.
In one artisanal port, at least 15 animals are intentionally taken annually
to be used for local consumption, shark-bait, or trade; however, we
acknowledge that this annual take is likely an underestimate. Further
research is needed to clarify how and at what magnitude mentioned and other
key-threats are impacting over Guiana dolphin MU in the Maracaibo Lake

Keywords: intentional take, by-catch capture, ambient noise, heavy metals,
management plan, aquatic bushmeat, small cetaceans, southern Caribbean.

If you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,
On behalf of my co-authors,

Dr. Hector Barrios-Garrido, author of correspondence
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