Occurrence patterns, habitat associations, and potential prey of the river dolphin, Inia geoffrensis, in the Cinaruco river, Venezuela
Additional Document Info
The distribution, habitat association, group size, population structure, and prey availability of river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) were studied from November 1993-June 1994 in the Cinaruco River, a tributary of the Orinoco River that forms the southern boundary of Venezuela's Santos Luzardo National Park, Dolphins were sampled from a boat using modified strip-width transects, for a total of 418 h. The study area was 1.67 km2, and contained 20 km of water courses. Like other rivers of this region, the Cinaruco River undergoes a seasonal flood cycle. Dolphins were seen most often during the period of falling water (41% of total sightings) and least often during the rising water period (24% of total sightings). Dolphins were seen most often in confluence areas (35% of total sightings) and were seldom seen in side channels (13% of total sightings). The presence of rocks or sandbanks was associated with a greater frequency of dolphin sightings, and sightings increased with habitat heterogeneity. Average group size for the 8-mo study was 2.0 (1.0) and was largest during the rising water period. Calves were first sighted during the end of the dry season and became more common during the early flood season. Six individuals were photo-identified and resighted with one sighted eight times over 186 d. The fish diversity of the study area was high, with 161 species documented in our samples. The stomach of one Inia contained 15 fishes representing at least 4 species.