By Rhett Butler
The Amazon basin contains the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world -- more than 5,600 species.
Pictures of Amazonian fish:
- The Amazon has some 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are over 1000 miles long.
- The Piramutaba catfish, a giant Amazononian catfish, is thought to migrate a distance of about 2,050 miles (3,300 km) from its nursery grounds near the mouth of the Amazon to its spawning grounds in the upper Amazon.
- Many fish in the Amazon -- like the Tambaqui -- are important dispersers of tree seeds
- The Pirarucu or Arapaima is one of the world's largest freshwater fish attaining a length of up to 16 feet (5 meters).
- Several traditionally saltwater creatures have adapted to freshwater conditions of the Amazon including stingrays, dolphins, and sponges.
Recent news articles on the Amazon River
Brazilian tribes demarcate territory in bid to block dams
Indigenous communities in Brazil have taken the unusual step of demarcating their own land — without the approval of the Brazilian government — in a bid to block two dams they say threaten their territory and traditional livelihoods, report International Rivers and Amazon Watch, advocacy groups that are fighting the projects. Last week the Munduruku people annexed the 178,000-hectare Sawré Muybu territory after authorities failed to recognize their claims.
Brazil cancels Tapajos dam auction due to indigenous concerns
Brazilian authorities have suspended the auction of the centerpiece of the massive Tapajos hydroelectric complex, reports Agencia Brasil.
Brazil's planned Tapajós dams would increase Amazon deforestation by 1M ha
A plan to build a dozen dams in the Tapajós river basin would drive the loss of an additional 950,000 hectares of rainforest by 2032 by spurring land speculation and mass migration to the region, suggests a new study published by Imazon, a Brazilian NGO.
Peruvian oil spill sparks concern in indigenous rainforest community
A ruptured pipeline that spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Marañón River in late June is fueling concerns about potential health impacts for a small indigenous community.
No longer 'deaf as a stump': researchers find turtles chirp, click, meow, cluck
Turtles comprise one of the oldest living groups of reptiles, with hundreds of species found throughout the world. Many have been well-researched, and scientists know very specific things about their various evolutionary histories, metabolic rates, and the ways in which their sexes are determined. But there was one very obvious thing that has been largely left unknown by science until very recently. Turtles can make sounds.
Oil drilling causes widespread contamination in the Amazon rainforest
Decades of oil extraction in the Western Amazon has caused widespread pollution, raising questions about the impact of a new oil boom in the region, according to a team of Spanish researchers presenting at a conference in California.
Uncovering the impact of big banks on the Amazon
Mongabay.org announces up to $30,000 environmental reporting grant: The Brazilian Development Bank & The Amazon. In recent years the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES as emerged as a goliath financier of large-scale energy and infrastructure development in the Amazon and elsewhere in South America. But as projects have mushroomed across the continent, so have the social and environmental impacts.
New dolphin discovered in the Amazon surprises scientists
Researchers have discovered a new species of river dolphin from the Amazon. Writing in the journal Plos One, scientists led by Tomas Hrbek of Brazil's Federal University of Amazonas formally describe Inia araguaiaensis, a freshwater dolphin that inhabits the Araguaia River Basin. It is the first true river dolphin discovered since 1918.
Rainforest news review for 2013
2013 was full of major developments in efforts to understand and protect the world's tropical rainforests. The following is a review of some of the major tropical forest-related news stories for the year. As a review, this post will not cover everything that transpired during 2013 in the world of tropical forests. Please feel free to highlight anything this post missed via the comments section at the bottom. Also please note that this review focuses only on tropical forests.
Gold mine near controversial Belo Monte dam suspended
A gold mining project proposed near the Belo Monte dam site in the Amazon rainforest has been suspended by a Brazilian court, reports Reuters.
Belo Monte dam suspended
Construction on Belo Monte, Brazil's largest dam, was again halted by a federal court due to concerns over its license, reports Amazon Watch, an NGO that is mobilizing opposition to the project.
Scientist splits Amazonian giants into separate species
It's hard to mistake an arapaima for anything else: these massive, heavily-armored, air-breathing fish (they have to surface every few minutes) are the megafauna of the Amazon's rivers. But despite their unmistakability, and the fact that they have been hunted by indigenous people for millennia, scientists still know relatively little about arapaima, including just how many species there are. Since the mid-Nineteenth Century, scientists have lumped all arapaima into one species: Arapaima gigas. However, two recent studies in Copeia split the arapaimas into at least five total species—and more may be coming.