Population size estimates of pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) using mark-recapture methods on photo-identification


  • Catalina Gómez-Salazar Fundación Omacha and Dalhousie University
  • Hal Whitehead Dalhousie University
  • Fernando Trujillo




Pink River dolphin, Inia, population size, photo-identification, mark-recapture, Amazon and Orinoco river basins


Population size estimates of pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) are critical to assess the conservation status of this species and the impacts of increasing human stressors in freshwater ecosystems. Photo-identifications of Inia dolphins were collected between February 2007 and August 2009 in two locations of the Colombian Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Population sizes of Inia were obtained by using the closed (Petersen) mark-recapture model on photo-identifications. The total population size estimate for right/left side individuals was 129/71 Inia dolphins (CV=0.36/0.35) in the Amazon location and 125/58 Inia dolphins (CV=0.77/0.69) in the Orinoco location. The survey and analysis protocols were designed to try to meet mark-recapture assumptions. However, photo-identification was incomplete in both study areas, and there could be recruitment and unequal probabilities of capture due to preferences of individuals for certain areas. Further effort should be focused towards expanding the photo-identification catalogues and creating long-term monitoring programs.


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