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Dolphin Species: Peale's Dolphin Lagenorhynchus australis

The Peale's Dolphin is a robust and large dolphin. Measuring approximately 2m, its dorse and flippers, fluke and dorsal fins are of a dark gray colour, as well as its head, lips and throat. It is a coastal dweller, entering bays and canals and is often found between kelp beds.

Since 1992 a research project on the Peale's Dolphin has been in process in Cabo Vírgenes (at the eastern mouth of the Strait of Magellan (Santa Cruz Province). This project's objectives are the study of the dolphin's biology, ecology and conservation. To that end, behavior, position and distribution patterns of different groups of animals are being registered, and the interaction with other species is also being studied.

In addition, periodic aerial census surveys are conducted, and the animals are photographed for identification of distinct characteristics.

In the area where Peale's Dolphin are studied, the dolphins travel individually or in small groups when the food source is scarce and/or disperse. When food availability increases, the number of individuals per group increases, enabling more successful foraging.

These dolphins are often observed performing leaps with a high amount of activity at the surface of the water. They interact with other species, such as the Commerson's Dolphin, Southern Right Whale and Great Grebe, Magellanic Penguin, Rock Cormorant bird, Kelp Gull and Southern Sea Lion.

The main threat to the Peale's Dolphin was previously their hunting for use as bait for King Crab and False King Crab. Currently, the greatest dangers for this species are accidental captures in the gill nets of Patagonian blennie (robalo), hake and Silverside (pejerrey) fishferman in the Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego Provinces; and also the overexploitation of fisheries and the increasing oil drilling activity in the area.

Research projects related to this dolphin are complemented by a study of the potential impact of the petroleum activity, and the development of activities related to environmental education, assessment and diffusion.

These project have support from the Dirección de Fauna, Prefectura Naval Argentina, Servicio de Hidrografía Naval, Armada Agentina, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral and Dirección de Turismo de Río Gallegos. These organizations strive to improve the environmental conditions of the region and as such, contribute to the conservation of this species.


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