SOLYMONE BLOG

BRAZIL'S MANAQUIRI RIVER OF DEATH


The once free-flowing Manaquiri River, which runs through the state of Amazonas in northwest Brazil, is in the fight of its life against a spell of dry weather - and it appears to be losing the battle.
Thousands of dead fish are rotting on the river banks and hundreds more float on its surface, turning the area into a toxic cesspool.
  • Vultures circle overhead, picking away at the rotting carcasses. Even an alligator - one of the fiercest reptiles of the Amazon - floats belly up in the river.
  • Local fishermen say it has not rained in more than 25 days, leaving the large surrounding rivers in recession. This has in turn choked off the tributaries that provide fresh water to the Manaquiri.
  • With no fresh water coming in, oxygen levels in the river have dropped, leaving the fish to suffocate to death.
  • "One week the river water levels dropped, the next week all the fish died," Bruno dos Santos, a fisherman, said.
  • "In five days all the fish were dead. We have nothing left, only this ugly water."
  • Fearnside, who has lived in the Amazon for the past 33 years and is considered one of Brazil's top ecologists, says climate change theories are not built on speculation.
  • "This is something we have experience with and know from the data, it's not something that depends on the outcome of a computer simulation," he adds.
  • He says that while droughts can occur without climate change, such events are more likely to develop in a warming climate.
  • For the fishermen passing time on their now idle boats on the Manaquiri, the stench of fish carcasses baking under the sun is a constant reminder of their dwindling livelihood.
  • The ice chest on Antonio Farias' boat, which used to be filled with fish, is now empty. Although he admits that he has no scientific expertise, he does offer his own theories for the cause of his community's misery.
  • "I think this is related to some changes in the climate. Because for us, it's been over 20 days without rain here. This was a surprise, because we have never experienced this before. It's sad, all the dead fish" he said.
  • The fishermen say the damage has already been done. It will take a year at least, they say, for the river to recover.
Source: Al Jazeera
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