Fishers’ knowledge as a source of information about the estuarine dolphin (Sotalia guianensis, van Bénéden, 1864)

  • Maíra Fontes Manzan
  • Priscila F. M. LopesEmail author


Fishers’ local ecological knowledge (LEK) is an additional tool to obtain information about cetaceans, regarding their local particularities, fishing interactions, and behavior. However, this knowledge could vary in depth of detail according to the level of interaction that fishers have with a specific species. This study investigated differences in small-scale fishers’ LEK regarding the estuarine dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) in three Brazilian northeast coastal communities where fishing is practiced in estuarine lagoons and/or coastal waters and where dolphin-watching tourism varies from incipient to important. The fishers (N = 116) were asked about general characteristics of S. guianensis and their interactions with this dolphin during fishing activities. Compared to lagoon fishers, coastal fishers showed greater knowledge about the species but had more negative interactions with the dolphin during fishing activities. Coastal fishing not only offered the opportunity for fishers to observe a wider variety of the dolphin’s behavior, but also implied direct contact with the dolphins, as they are bycaught in coastal gillnets. Besides complementing information that could be used for the management of cetaceans, this study shows that the type of environment most used by fishers also affects the accuracy of the information they provide. When designing studies to gather information on species and/or populations with the support of fishers, special consideration should be given to local particularities such as gear and habitats used within the fishing community.


Local ecological knowledge Local classification Cetaceans Small-scale fishing Incidental catch Fishers’ perception 



We thank all the fishers from the three villages for their kind support and patience with the long interviews, and mostly for sharing their knowledge. We also thank Geraldo B. Freire Junior for helping with the statistics and Silvia N. Viana for the map. To CAPES for the grant provided to the first author.

Supplementary material

10661_2014_4096_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maíra Fontes Manzan
    • 1
  • Priscila F. M. Lopes
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate Program in EcologyFederal University of Rio Grande do Norte, CB, Campus Universitário Lagoa NovaNatalBrazil
  2. 2.Department of EcologyCB, Campus Universitário Lagoa NovaNatalBrazil
  3. 3.FIFO—Fisheries and Food InstituteSantosBrazil

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