A NEW TOOL TOWARDS THE CONSERVATION OF FRANCISCANA DOLPHIN
Between mid 2013 and 2014 the project entitled “Acoustic detection and environmental education: two essential components for the conservation of Franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei)” had the financial support of the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (WHMSI), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). Thanks to their support we were able to carry out a project with the ultimate goal of developing a multidisciplinary strategy for Franciscana dolphin conservation, given that the Franciscana dolphin is considered the most threatened dolphin of the Southwest Atlantic and it is classified as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This multidisciplinary project was developed to reinforce and improve the conservation efforts on this species in the Río Negro Estuary (RNE), Patagonia. The first component of this project consists of the educational program “Delfines del Río Negro” –that already has reached 10,500 students and 1,100 teachers since its beginnings in 2001, including activities such as outreach and art campaigns, beach cleaning, design and distribution of flyers, posters and informative signs. In addition, we also offered workshops to the local community on land-based responsible whale-watching, and promoted the creation and establishment of a regional protected area in the RNE.
As part of our research work, we have described for the first time the echolocation clicks produced by Franciscana in the wild (Melcón et al, 2012) and developed an acoustic tool that can be used by the scientific community. In particular, we have created a routine in MatLab to analyze acoustic files and detect Franciscana dolphins. The idea is that all researchers working throughout the distribution of Franciscana dolphins can use it. This method constitutes a non-invasive technique that allows the detection of cetacean presence in an almost unambiguous manner and thus has the potential of being used to estimate population size by choosing the appropriate experimental design.
As we mentioned previously this is a free access code to be used in MatLab, so we will be very happy to receive feedback from researchers. In this way, we could help generalize it to other regions and assure to contribute to the conservation of this endangered species through a common effort assessing population size and other biological parameters.
Below you can download the latest version of the “Pontoporia Acoustic Detector” with its corresponding manual of instructions and a file listing the updates present in the current version:
Should you have any questions, please send a message here.
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Below you can find older versions of the detector: