A River’s Pulse

By Sofia Moutinho
January 5, 2023

In the Brazilian Amazon, Indigenous people and researchers join hands to monitor the impacts of a controversial dam

Soon after sunrise one warm day in September 2022, 26-year-old Josiel Pereira Juruna boards a small motorboat and sets out on the emerald-green waters of the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. Accompanying him are biologist Cristiane Carneiro and Pedrinho Viana, a fellow fisherman from their village of Muratu in the Paquiçamba Indigenous Reserve in northern Brazil’s Pará state. After a short ride, Viana hauls in a gillnet set out in a creek the night before.

He pulls a disk-shaped fish with bright gray scales and a yellowish belly from the net and hands it to Josiel, who hangs it from a portable scale. “One hundred and fifty grams,” he declares, then presses a ruler against the animal, known as a big-eyed pacu. “Fifteen centimeters,” he says, as Carneiro takes notes.

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