Dr. Joe Mascaro is Planet's Director of Science Programs

Rescuing Stranded River Dolphins With the Help of Satellites


Central Brazil’s Araguaia River flows over a thousand miles through rainforest, savannah and farmland. In dry season as the river’s water dwindles, endangered Araguaia River dolphins shimmy across sand banks to find pools of fish and deeper waters. Human-built irrigation dams can often block a dolphin’s path, trapping them in dwindling, shallow pools.

The rescue team uses satellite imagery to pinpoint the stranded dolphin’s location. Image: Instituto Araguaia

The team at the Instituto Araguaia—an organization dedicated to protecting the Araguaia’s many unique species—discovered a group of stranded dolphins using a combination of Planet’s satellite imagery and drone cameras during the dry season’s peak. Once the dolphins were discovered, it was up to the institute to coordinate the rescue.

See the Instituto Araguaia’s full photo essay, detailing the rescue process over on the Planet Stories Publication.