WHALES ON THE NET
SAO PAULO, Brazil, 17 July, 2007 (AP) -- A crew of Brazilian fishermen was captured on video killing 83 dolphins and joking about their illegal haul, Brazil's Ibama environmental protection agency said Tuesday.
The dolphins seen in the footage appear to be tucuxi dolphins (Sotalia fluviatilis guianensis) a species which is seriously threatened by an ongoing problem of fisheries bycatch in Brazilian waters.
The video obtained by an Ibama researcher and broadcast by Globo TV showed the fishermen netting the dolphins, which suffocated because they could not surface to breathe.
The researcher was contracted by the agency and sent undercover aboard the fishing boat to monitor hauls of other fish. The dolphin kill was filmed while the boat was off the coast of Amapa state, near the point where the Amazon River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
As the dolphins were hauled from the sea and piled on the boat's deck, fishermen on board laughed after someone said, "Everyone's going to jail after this filming!"
No one has been charged or fined because authorities were still trying to identify the fishermen caught on video, Globo reported.
Ibama confirmed the Globo report that aired Monday night, but said Tuesday that no one was immediately available to provide additional details. It was not immediately clear whether the researcher or a crew member filmed the dolphins being killed.
Fishermen who illegally snag dolphins usually sell the meat to other boats that use it to haul up sharks, Globo TV said.
Dolphin jaws complete with all the teeth are sold in an open air market in the large Amazon city of Belem, and the eyes are also sold as fetishes to men who believe they have magical powers attract riches and women. Dolphins' penises are ground into a powder thought to make men more virile.
Killing dolphins is a crime in Brazil punishable by up to a year and a half in prison. Ibama is working on a plan to ban fishing in the areas where the dolphins were killed.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.