A PROJECT to save Portugal’s Sado Estuary dolphins from extinction will be up and running before the end of the year.
In 1986 there were 40 dolphins in the Sado, now there are only 26 left according to marine scientist Raquel Gaspar.
The ‘Action Plan to Save and Monitor the Sado Estuary Dolphin Population’ involves members of environmental group Quercus, shipping and shipbuilding company Lisnave, paper producer Portucel and tourism developer Sonae Turismo, who last week set out their objectives in Setúbal.
The dolphins in the Sado are the only resident population of the mammals left in Portugal, and one of the few left in Europe.
“There are no guarantees of success and the only certainty that we have is that the dolphin population will only recover if we maintain and improve the quality of their habitat,” says Raquel Gaspar, a biologist at the Institute of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB).
The population of the bottle-nosed dolphin is set to further decline over the next few years if nothing is done.
The population is small and aging, with fewer births while the majority of the population is reaching 40-50 years of age – the upper age limit of the species.
“We want to reduce the agents responsible for decreasing dolphin populations from pollution to shipping,” says João Carlos Farinha, the Deputy-Director of the Department of Management for Classified Wetland Areas.
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