Are there dolphins in the Amazon River?
The Amazon River is one of Brazil’s most incredible and mysterious places. Even for me, as a Brazilian born and bred, it’s hard to believe how diverse and important this environment is to the world. There are literally thousands of creatures living in those murky waters that can easily kill you, but beautiful and docile animals can also be found there. The best example of this is the Pink Dolphin, the symbol of the Amazon.
The Pink Dolphin is a dolphin that can be found in the Amazon River. Known in Brazil as “Boto-Cor-de-Rosa”, the animal is considered a symbol of the Amazon and there is a lot of folklore and legends about it. Friendly and docile, it’s possible to pay to swim with the dolphins in some areas.
The “boto-cor-de-rosa”, as it’s called in Brazil, is probably one of the most beautiful animals on Earth and still, there’s a lot of mystery (and legends) about the species. From stories of dolphins turning into a handsome man who impregnates virgin girls in regional festivities and disappears to the sad reality of the fishing of Piracatinga, that threatens the pink dolphins with extinction. To learn all about it, read on.
Pink Dolphin: The Symbol Of The Amazon
The “boto-cor-de-rosa”, Pink Dolphin, is the species of dolphin that can be found in the Amazon River, the reason why it’s common to see people calling it the Amazon River Dolphin. It’s the largest species of freshwater dolphin in the world, with males reaching more than 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) in length and weighing up to 200 kgs. Females are smaller, reaching up to 2.15 meters (7 feet) and 150 kgs.
The Pink Dolphin is cute and very docile, has small eyes, and an elongated snout. Its mouth is full of small and conical teeth, used to eat mainly fish and crustaceous. The body color – characteristic that gives the species its name – varies between pink and gray depending on the animal’s age and also for other reasons, such as water characteristics and geographic location. An interesting fact is that in rivers with more turbid waters, the dolphins are pinker.
The pink dolphin can only be found in the northern region of South America, in the Amazon region. There are at least three geographical populations that have already been identified by researchers: in the Amazon basin (except part of the Madeira River), in the upper Madeira River (part of Rondônia and Bolivia), and the Orinoco River basin. This dolphin species lives well in any type of aquatic environment, except estuaries and rapids, as the animal prefers calmer waters.
The Pink Dolphin Is An Endangered Species
According to a WWF report, the Pink Dolphin is “data deficient” on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. This means that estimates of the size of populations still need to be obtained. The main threats to the species are Piracatinga fishing and the construction of hydroelectric power plants. As a Brazilian, I can confirm these threats.
Despite dolphin meat not being good to eat, fishermen in the region take advantage of the fact that they are easy to catch to use the putrefied animal meat to fish Piracatinga. It’s important to point out that fishermen in the region, as a general rule, are not bad, but simple people in search of sustenance who have no idea of the damage caused. That’s why educating them is very important for the preservation of the species.
Currently, It’s estimated that around 600 botos are killed each year in Brazil to serve as bait for Piracatinga, but this is not the only threat for them. The construction of hydroelectric plants in the country’s northern region can isolate populations of dolphins and affect the region’s fish, their main source of food. In this sense, educating and combating these practices is essential so that the Pink Dolphin does not end up becoming just a legend.
The Legends About The Pink Dolphin
The pink dolphin is more than just a symbol for the Amazon, it’s also an important part of Brazilian folklore, and its legend is very common in the North region. The “boto-cor-de-rosa”, as it’s called in Portuguese, is an animal present in Amazonian rivers, and, in the local’s history, it has a negative connotation.
The legend of the Pink Dolphin (known as “boto”) says that this animal becomes a very handsome and conquering man, who goes looking for women to seduce them. There are different versions of the legend, some say that it transforms itself during any festival in the riverside communities, and others that the transformation only happens on the full moon in June, during the festivities of Santo Antônio, São João, and São Pedro, very important for the locals.
The “boto”, as mentioned, turns into a very handsome man, charming and with good conversation. A funny part of the legend says that during the transformation he wears white clothes, shoes, and a hat that covers the top of his head. This hat would be a disguise, as the transformation is not complete: on top of the head would be the nostrils of the dolphin. Therefore, the hat hides the great evidence that that man is, in fact, the Pink Dolphin.
There are two different versions of the legend, one of them says that the “boto” is always looking for the most beautiful woman at the party to seduce her. Others say that he is not necessarily looking for the most beautiful, but rather for a virgin woman. The consensus is that after seducing the woman, the “boto” lies down with her and, before the end of the night, he abandons her
(not cool Mr. Boto).
After a night of love (and a heartbreak) the woman becomes pregnant, and her son grows up without a father, once the Pink Dolphin has returned to its waters. Over the years and to this day, this legend is often used in popular tradition to explain fatherless children. Thus, every child who grows up without knowing who the father is is known as the “Boto’s Son”. It’s sad but kinda funny as well 😀
Are Amazon River Dolphins Dangerous?
Few people know it, but the Amazon River is home to the largest species of freshwater dolphins in the world, the Pink Dolphin (or “pink dolphin”, as it is known in Brazil). This species of dolphin is beautiful and its main characteristic is the beautiful pink color of its skin. But are Amazon river dolphins dangerous?
The Pink Dolphin, also known as the Amazon River Dolphin, is not dangerous. In rare cases of attacks against humans, the animal can cause serious injuries due to its size (up to 2.5 meters) and strong teeth. Overall, Pink Dolphin is docile and gets well with humans, that are used to swim with them.
There are very few records of attacks by Pink Dolphins in history and it only occurs in cases of accidents, in which animals feel threatened. Unfortunately, the fact that the Amazon River Dolphin is extremely docile is one of the factors that has contributed to placing it on the list of endangered animals.
How Many Amazon River Dolphins Are Left?
Despite being the symbol of the Amazon, the Pink Dolphin (“boto” or “pink dolphin” in Portuguese), is threatened with extinction, largely due to the fishing of Piracatinga, fish for which fishermen use their meat of the “boto” as bait. It’s difficult to come up with an exact number of how many Amazon river dolphins are left, but some researchers are bringing hope that the species will survive.
The Pink Dolphin population in the Amazon River is about 8000 dolphins, a number that has halved over the past decade. In 2020, in a stretch of 950 km of the Amazon River, more than 900 new dolphins were tracked. A small number yet an encouraging sign that the species may be recovering.
How Big Is An Amazon River Dolphin?
Freshwater dolphins are present in various regions of the world, as different species can adapt to this type of environment. But the Amazon River Dolphin in turn has a very special feature related to its size.
The Amazon River Dolphin (Pink Dolphin) is the largest species of freshwater dolphin in the world. In this species the males are larger, reaching up to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) and up to 200kg. And the females can reach up to 2.1 meters (7 feet) and approximately 150 kg.
This species from the Amazon River, also known as “boto” or “boto-cor-de-rosa” in Brazil, in addition to being a super docile animal, is one of the most beautiful species of dolphin, due to its very special pink coloration. As a rule, the more turbid the waters, the pinker the dolphins.
Is The Amazon River Dolphin Extinct?
In addition to being considered one of the most beautiful animals in nature, the pink dolphin is a symbol of the Amazon. More than that: the “boto”, as it is called in Brazil, is the largest species of freshwater dolphin in the world. But its days may be numbered, as the animal is at risk of extinction.
The Amazon River Dolphin is not extinct, but it is on the endangered animal’s list. Also known as Pink Dolphin, the biggest threats to the species are the construction of hydroelectric dams and the fishing of Piracatinga, for which fishermen kill and use the meat of dolphins as baits.
In recent years law has been passed prohibiting fishing in Piracatinga, seeking to reduce the killing of pink dolphins. Furthermore, it is important to emphasize that fishermen, as a rule, are not bad people. They are simple men seeking sustenance, which is why information and education are so important for the preservation of the species.
How Many Babies Can An Amazon River Dolphin Have?
The Amazon River Dolphin is one of the most special animals in the world, due to its beauty and sociability (the animal is super docile). Still, fishing in Piracatinga that uses dolphin meat as bait has put the species at risk. An aggravating factor for the situation is the long period of gestation of females.
The Amazon River Dolphin can have only 1 baby at a time. With a gestation that lasts about 11 months, the Pink Dolphin gives birth to the dolphin that is born with about 80 cm and feeds on breast milk for approximately 1 year. The interval between one birth and another is usually two to three years.
This factor is one of the main difficulties for the maintenance of the Amazon River Dolphins, as the rate of reproduction is slower than the killing promoted by predatory and indiscriminate fishing of the species, the recovery of the number of dolphins is a process that will still take a long time.
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