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Swarovski Foundation award: Ecology and conservation of the Boto Dolphin in the Tocantins River, Brazil

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Gabriel Melo Alves dos Santos with Boto dolphin, Tocatins River, Amazon region, Brazil

The Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) at the University of St Andrews has been given a Swarovski Foundation award to support a detailed study of the behaviour and habitat of the Araguaian Boto dolphin in the Tocantins River in the Eastern Amazon region of Brazil.  

Expertise from our world-leading researchers is being applied to river dolphins to identify how they interact with humans and any negative impacts this may have on the animals. 

Professor Vincent Janik will work with Gabriel Melo Alves dos Santos, a local researcher in Brazil, to conduct scientific surveys of the Boto dolphin population. The information gathered will be used for conservation efforts of the species and its river habitat, which will in turn promote tourism in the area and benefit local people. 

This is a new project for the University, and Gabriel is very grateful for the support of the Swarovski Foundation, which will give him the financial backing to undertake the work.

Gabriel describes the nature of the research:

Our proposal for the Swarovski Foundation will be my first post-doctoral project. The main objective at the start of this project with the Swarovski Foundation is to advance our understanding of Botos’ acoustic behaviour so that we can combine acoustic and visual data for information on their habitat use and population numbers in the Tocantins River, the most human-impacted river system in the Amazon and home to the recently described Araguaian Boto.  

Funding from the Swarovski Foundation will allow us to undertake field work in Brazil and to apply acoustic techniques on dolphins around the market to test if such techniques are viable along the course of the river and then to apply them throughout this species’ range.

Professor Vincent Janik and his team are delighted to be working on the project with Gabriel. They are based in St Andrews at the SOI, which is currently begin redeveloped.

Gabriel (left) with a fellow researcher and Boto dolphins