Catching Whitewater Before It’s Gone

EP's Andy Maser, Kyle Dickman and Trip Jennings at the Teotônio Waterfall. © Adam Mills Elliot

The crew took off this morning for one more round of whitewater — taking on the rapids of Cachoeira de Teotônio (Teotônio Waterfall).

The falls are on the Rio Madeira — the longest and the second largest tributary of the Amazon. The river gets its name “River of Wood” from the massive number of uprooted trees that once floated down its rough waters

Teotônio is a iconic rapid in the Amazon Basin and is renowned fishing site for local communities that rely on fish for food and their economy. But EP’s run of its rapids will be one of the last. By 2012, construction will be finished on a dam below the rapid that will submerge Teotônio.

Andy Maser finds some whitewater. © Adam Mills Elliot

Not only will the dam turn whitewater into resevoir, but the construction will block passage for native catfish. Ultimately, the fish in this now-productive ecosystem will go extinct — hurting fishing communities and changing a way of life.

From International Rivers:

The projects would block the transport of sediment and the passage of fish and threaten the river’s unique biodiversity, affecting the land and livelihoods of thousands of river bank dwellers and indigenous people. The habitat of thirty–three endangered mammal species would be destroyed. And the Amazon’s most important tributary would no longer flow freely.

The biggest threat to the Amazon is rapid deforestation and damming of rivers like the Madeira — already more than 4,000 sq mi of the Brazilian Amazon has been flooded by dams.

And over the last three decades, an annual average of 6,500 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon — an area that is greater than the size of Connecticut — has been deforested to make way for beef and soy production.

The crew with their catch of the day. © Adam Mills Elliot

EP’s goal on this expedition was to complete a biodiversity inventory of the river and to find and document the monster fish written about by Teddy Roosevelt in 1914, before this dam changes the ecosystem forever. But the biggest goal is to bring this story home. EP is working to raise awareness to the plight of these threatened rivers, fish species and the communities that depend upon them.

So what can you do? Be an informed global citizen. Did your hamburger (or soy burger) have roots in the Amazon? Do your best to support your local farmer — buy and eat local foods. And to take action, click HERE to help protect the Rio Madeira!

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~ by epicocity on December 9, 2009.

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