South American Giants, words inspired by Jorge Cervera Hauser

By Erica Allen

Underwater photography can bring people to every inch of the planet, from saltwater to fresh, tropics to arctic, and everywhere in between. This is a photojournalism composition of Jorge Cevera Hauser and his encounters in the Brazilian Amazon. 

In a vast and lush savanna wetland locally known as Cerrado, resides an ecosystem that occupies about 20% of Brazilian territory. More than 1,600 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles have been identified in the Cerrado. Here, Hauser is on the search to photograph the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus). This rare giant is known to reach a length of thirty feet and weigh as much as 550lbs. He believes this is the only river in the world that combines green anacondas and clear waters that provide optimal conditions to document the reptile’s underwater behavior.

As Hauser explains, although the water is relatively clear, one must still be incredibly close to their subject in order to get “the shot”. 

On a different adventure, Jorge headed for the Rio Negro, the largest tributary of the Amazon River, and one of the world’s largest rivers by average discharge. The Rio Negro, as the name suggests is what is known as a "blackwater river" providing a very different photographic challenge. Hauser's mission was to find the Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), or Boto as they’re locally know. These unique cetaceans are quite different in appearance from the tropical oceanic species that most divers encounter. Though specifically adapted to their lowlight freshwater environment these dolphins share their marine relative's intelligence and have learned that fishermen are associated with an easy meal. It is believed that these river dolphins entered the Amazon River from the Pacific Ocean before the Andes were formed and were subsequently trapped in the freshwater. 

 Hausers’ goal on this trip was not to just photograph the botos, but to photograph them underwater at the Igapo, the flooded forest. The Igapo is an ecologically important area for the botos as this area is used as nursery grounds for mother botos and their offspring. Additionally, water in the igapó is relatively slow moving compared to the main river channel, thus providing a safer environment for juvenile botos to swim, develop, and grow.

Today, the boto is an endangered species. Threats they face are many and include development, excessive harvesting of aquatic resources, poor water management, natural resource removal and pollution to name a few.


Documenting these remote and unique species hopefully brings greater awareness and an opportunity for their future ability to thrive in these special places.