The Myth and Mystery of the Amazon Dolphins
Mysterious and shy the pink dolphin hides in plain sight under the brown amazonian waters. Deep into the evergreen where trees kiss the fresh amazonian current and all memory of civilization is quickly and willingly forgotten is the place where the most elusive inhabitants of the jungle can be found.
Lovers of freshwater environments pink dolphins live in whitewater, clearwater and blackwater of fast-flowing rivers but they are also fond of the calmer waters of lagoons and flooded areas of the rainforest.
Preferring to navigate freshwater all on its own the pink dolphin sometimes chooses to be in the company of a small group, particularly when there is plenty of food available. When two pink dolphins are seen together it’s likely a mother and her young pup.
Quiet and always keeping to itself the pink dolphin is still as inquisitive as its marine relatives. Contact with humans is not unheard of and their natural curiosity drives them towards the rare sighting of a biped homosapiens even if from afar. Keeping its distance the strong and long back of the pink dolphin slowly emerges and unhurriedly disappears underwater. Although not boat followers or out-of-water jumpers like their sea cousins their beauty is of a different kind, the patient visitor will relish a the sight of its naturally mystical beauty.
Found all across the basins of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers the pink dolphin has a home throughout South America, being possible to spot them in Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Guayana, Bolivia, and Brazil. But best to observe them in the calmer waters of lagoons and flooded forest areas where the serenity of the waters spills over the jungle. The Yasuní National Park or Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve offer these idyllic habitats.
These peaceful areas flooded during the rainy season offer the females and newborns the best chance of survival. To attract females during the mating season males carry branches in their mouth to show the females their interest and towards May and June females give birth just in time for the floodings. In these serene waters pink dolphins prey on fish hiding in submerged vegetation in flooded areas. When water levels go back to normal they migrate to the rivers where their diet becomes more varied including crabs, shrimp, small turtles, and shellfish.
Their defining trait — their pink color — is still an enigma for science. The pink color appears as the dolphin grows older but as a pup by rule all pink dolphins as grey. Depending on a variety of factors such as diet, sun exposure, placement of capillaries, and behavior can make a freshwater dolphin pink but there is no consensus about the real reason for their coloration. Not all dolphins become completely pink, some remain quite greyish while other develop pink spots and others become very bright pink. When dolphins get excited they may become even pinker and it seems that males tend to turn pinker.
For nature lovers or dolphin enthusiasts the sighting of the timid pink dolphin is the highest reward that the Amazon can bestow, but the means are as important as the end, and diving into the depths of the rainforest is worth by far the effort of the pursuit.
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