The Amazon River Dolphin is a group of dolphins that primarily dwell in the South Americas waters, especially in the Amazon river. Also known as the ‘Pink River Dolphin’ or the ‘Boto’, they are not to be confused with the marine pink dolphins. This water mammal is the largest of all the other river dolphin species, and cannot survive in salt water. It is a very distant relative to the sea dolphin, and has a pink to pinkish-grey pigmentation on their bodies, which is one of their primary characteristics, giving them a very unique appearance (and hence their name). The Boto is the only river dolphin that is kept in captivity, mostly in the USA, Venezuela and Europe. However, the rate of mortality is high amongst the captive specimens.
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Table of Contents
Amazon River Dolphin Scientific Classification
Table Of Content
Table of Contents
Amazon River Dolphin
Size: Length of the adult dolphins varies between 2 and 3 meters.
Weight: Can weigh up to 160 kilos.
Skin Color: Color is dependent on their age. While the baby Amazon river dolphins have a dark gray dorsal side, the ventral side is lighter gray. With maturity, the flanks and the ventral side begins turning pink. Pink is predominant in the males. Their colors fade gradually with age, having blue-gray and white tinges all over.
Pink River Dolphin Images Clipart
Eyes: Small round eyes but with a strong eyesight.
Beaks: The beaks are pretty long with a strong built adapted to capture prey.
Teeth: The jawline is made of a combination of 24-34 conical and molar-like teeth.
Fins: All fins are same like other dolphins except that they don’t have dorsal fins, but instead, has a hump on the back that gets larger with age.
In the wild, the average life expectancy of these animals is only 33 months. However, in captivity, they have been recorded to have lived between 10 and 30 years.
Pink dolphins primarily inhabit the Amazon River in South America, but their range extends to the basins of the Orinoco and the upper Madeira River as well.
Habitat: Where do Pink Amazon River Dolphins live
Botos are generally concentrated below the confluences of the channels. They dwell in the fast flowing, whitewater, clearwater or blackwater rivers of the lowlands. But they are strictly freshwater mammals. They are also found in the lakes, the largest tributaries of the rivers, and seasonally in the flooded rainforests.
Classification of Subspecies
Depending upon their ranges, the dolphins have been classified into the following:
- Inia geoffrensis geoffrensis of the Amazon
- Inia humboldtiana geoffrensis in the Orinoco
- Inia geoffrensis boliviensis from Bolivia
Pink Dolphin Amazon River
The Amazon River Dolphins are social and friendly creatures, living since centuries in the Amazon and its tributaries. Usually seen roaming alone, or in pairs during the mating season, these dolphins would hover in groups of 10 to 15 when there is an abundance of prey. Like most other species, these dolphins sleep with one eye open.
Typically, these creatures are slow swimmers, and are primarily diurnal. They are mostly active early in the morning, until late afternoon. They breathe at a shallow angle, displaying their dorsal fins, the beak and the melon all at a time.
Like many other species, the botos are seldom seen leaping above the water surface. However, the Amazon River dolphins are often seen swimming upside down, though the reason is uncertain. It is thought that, the fleshy cheeks of these dolphins act as an obstruction to their bottom vision, for which they tend to turn upside down to get a vision downwards.
Diet: What Do Amazon River Dolphins Eat
Their diet primarily consists of fish, and they depend on healthy fish populations for their survival, feasting upon over 50 types of fish. They also consume shellfish, crabs, crustaceans, and even small turtles.
Video: Feeding the Boto Dolphins
Sounds and Communication
Apart from emitting the sonar (inaudible to humans), these Amazonian dolphins use whistling tones for communication. Researchers say that, this sound has some connection to food. Research has also revealed that, these vocalizations are different in structure to the typical whistles of other dolphin species.
Before mating, the adult males carry objects like branches, floating vegetation, or hardened clay balls in their mouths to the females to propose for mating. Sexual dimorphism is evident in these creatures, with the males weighing and measuring between 16% and 55% more than females.
Courtship and mating foreplay have also been recorded with the male nibbling the female’s fins. However, if the female is not receptive, the male would react aggressive. The frequency of intercourse in a couple is high, and they have been observed to use at least three different sex positions – lying head to head, lying head to tail, and contacting the womb at right angles.
Baby Pink Amazon River Dolphin
Reproduction and Life Cycle
The boto dolphins breed seasonally, giving birth to the pups between the summer months of May and June. The season of giving birth to the young ones coincide with the flooding season, providing an advantage to the female and its babies. While they stay in the flooded regions longer than the males, until the water level goes down. These areas have enough sources of food to provide the juveniles with enough nutrition they require for growth.
The gestation period lasts for about 11 months to 1 year, and in captivity, the birth takes around 4 to 5 hours. During birth, the size (length) of the calf is around 31 inches, with the lactation taking about 1 complete year. The females can again develop offspring after 15 to 36 months. It takes almost 2 to 3 years for the baby dolphins to be adult and independent.
The calves are born between July and September. The period of breastfeeding is relatively long in these mammals, which in turn shows a strong bond between the child and the mother. Also, during this time, the babies learn from the parents and are developed by their care and attention. While the male dolphins attain the age of sexual maturity when they attain the length of about 2 meters, the females sexually mature at about 1.7 meters.
- A characteristic that is unique to these dolphins is the presence of stiff hairs on the beak, which are sensory organs aiding them to sense the presence of a prey in the muddy river bottoms.
- These water mammals have conical teeth in the front portion of their mouths, which is ideal for holding their prey. The molar teeth situated in the rear end of their mouths are shaped ideally for grinding food before they swallow. This is known as ‘heterodont’ dentition.
- Unlike other dolphins having a fused vertebra, this species can freely move their neck on all sides.
- Length of the fins allows these mammals to perform a circular movement, and is ideal for exceptional maneuverability during swimming through the flooded forest.
- These animals known for their keen eyesight and hearing, which assist them in defending themselves in the deep river basins.
- They have large flukes and flippers that make it easy for them to maneuver in the shallow depths of river water.
- These dolphins are able to emit audible sonar vibration, which assists in echolocation of their prey.
Pink Amazon River Dolphin Pictures
The petroleum industry in the Amazon and Orinoco basins pose a threat to the dolphins by means of polluting the aquatic ecosystem where the species is found. In Colombia, the oil pipelines have been blown up by armed groups, causing irreparable pollution.
The raise in contaminant levels of mercury have also caused and increased the total number of recorded deaths among these mammals, especially close to the gold mines, where mercury is used in the process for mining gold.
Predators: What eats an Amazon River Dolphin
These dolphins have few natural predators, but at times, they are hunted down by anacondas, jaguars and caimans. They are also attacked by humans for their skin for leather and for their fat for cooking (and also for leather). They are also caught to be kept captive in aquariums.
They have not yet been officially declared as threatened or endangered. Because of insufficient data, the IUCN 3.1 has categorized it under their ‘Data Deficient’ list.
Baby Pink Dolphin Amazon River
- Like many other dolphins, the Amazon dolphins are not acrobatic, and it is difficult to train them.
- Unfortunately, these dolphins really don’t have a defense.
- The other four river dolphin species (viz., Indus River Dolphin, Chinese River Dolphin, Franciscana River Dolphin, and Ganges River Dolphin), which are functionally extinct or close to extinction, have their females larger. The opposite holds good for the Amazon River Dolphins.
- Historically, these animalshave been spared by humans since the local legends and mythology says that, these creatures have special powers.
- An Amazon river dolphin named Apure lived for forty years at the Duisburg Zoo in Germany.
- The Botos are not afraid of boats, thus they often suffer from wounds by colliding with them, and even get tangled up in fishing nets.
- The Amazon River Dolphin Conservation Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to conserve the population of these dolphins and their environment through education, research, and collaboration.
- Among the five species of river dolphins, the pink dolphins are considered the most intelligent, with the brain capacity being 40% bigger than that of humans.
- The pink dolphins are known to prey upon the piranhas, the legendary terror of the Amazon.
- Homosexual behavior in the form of ‘nasal sex’ has been observed in the Amazon River Dolphins, wherein, these dolphins would enter their penises into other males’ or females’ noses (blowholes). This makes them the only animal performing ‘nasal sex’.
Pink Amazon River Dolphins
Pink Amazon River Dolphin Facts
There are five species of dolphins that make their homes in rivers, being the most popular of them the Pink Dolphins also known as Boto, Boutu or Amazon River dolphins as it inhabits the Amazon River.
The scientific name of the Pink Dolphins from the Amazon is Inia Geoffrensis and they belong to the genus Inea, part of the family Platanistoidea, which is conformed by the five species of river dolphins.
Pink dolphins are not the same dolphins that you would see in the ocean; they have special adaptations to their habitat. In fact, river dolphins are only distantly related to sea dolphins.
They belong taxonomically speaking to different families. The oceanic dolphins belong to the family delphinidae while river dolphins belong to the family Platanistoidea as we said above.
Among the five species of river dolphins, Amazon pink dolphins are considered the most intelligent of them, with a brain capacity 40% larger than that of humans.
Pink dolphins inhabit the Amazon River, but they can also be found in the Orinoco basins and the upper Madeira River as well. While they are mostly pink, these dolphins have various colored skins, which can be light gray, pink, or brown.
The Amazon River pink dolphins conform the largest population of river dolphins in existence as the other four species are functionally extinct or close to extinction.
The river dolphins are among the most endangered species of all the world’s cetaceans. Pink dolphins have been listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a “vulnerable species-threatened” and recently was moved to “endangered species-threatened”
These friendly and social creatures have been living for centuries in the Amazon and its tributaries, but the accelerated destruction of the Amazon basin have put them in a every time more dangerous situation.
The raise in contaminant levels of mercury have caused and increased number of deaths among pink dolphins, especially near gold mines where mercury is used as part of the gold mining process.
The increase of traffic in the Amazon River, also threatens these creatures as they are curious by nature and they sometime approach to vessels where they are easily hurt by the sharp propellers.
Additionally, the noise produced by engines and motors and the sound pollution caused by them, has been considered to produce a disorienting phenomenon in their navigations systems, causing the death of many pink dolphins.
What do Pink Dolphins Eat?
Pink dolphins eat crabs, catfish, small river fish and even small turtles.
As crabs and turtles have to be catch mainly at the bottom of the river, pink dolphins spend a lot of time while swimming looking at the bottom of the river for food.
The boto cervical vertebrae are not fused allowing them to move their head up to 180 degrees, which is a great help for hunting in shallow waters and floodplains.
Hunting fish require some techniques like herding, where they round a fish pod to concentrate fish and take turns for feeding. This procedure is largely used by their oceanic cousins.
Physical Description of Pink Dolphins
In the Amazon Region…There is a legend about the Boto or Pink Dolphin. According to the legend, the Boto turns from man to dolphin and backwards, changing shape at will.
The legend also states that when dolphins find young women on the shore, they changes shape and impregnate them.
This comes from the similarites between certain body parts of the Boto and humans.
There are several other superstitions about the Pink Dolphins in the Amazon River and around.
Pink dolphins can be found in pink, light gray or brown colors but there is not conclusive evidence of the reason why pink dolphins are pink.
Acronis true image 2012 bootable iso. It could be an adaptation to the river life or caused by the presence of capillaries near the surface of the skin what provide them such impressive color. Additionally, pink dolphins get pinker when they are excited or surprised, resembling blushing in humans.
The Amazon River dolphin is between six and eight feet long, and weighs between 185 and 355 pounds when it is fully grown.
River dolphins are typically smaller than sea dolphins but they have longer snouts, an adaptation provided by evolution, which is needed to hunt at the bottom of the river. River dolphins also tend to have more pointy teeth than sea dolphins.
Most species of river dolphins are almost blind, due to navigating muddy waters, but their brains are extremely large and well developed, however pink dolphins are considered to have a relatively good sight.
Unlike sea dolphins, river dolphins have what resembles fingers on the ends of their flippers, and their dorsal fins are much smaller than that of sea dolphins or even have humpbacks instead of dorsal fins like the pink river dolphin.
Pink Amazon River Dolphin Images
Behavior of Pink Dolphins
Pink dolphins appear to be the friendliest of all the river dolphins when approaching to humans and some stories of people being pushed to the shores by them are common among some tribes in the Amazon.
They swim up to 30 kilometers in one day, although they usually swim slowly looking for food at the bottom of the river.
“Amazon River Pink Dolphins are typically smaller than sea dolphins but they have longer snouts, an adaptation provided by evolution…”
How do Pink Dolphins Reproduce?
Males and Females mate to start a gestation period which is believed to last from nine to twelve months. Copulation is performed between males and females belly to belly.
Calves are born about 75 cm long and weighing a bit more than 1 Kg.
Pink dolphins deliver their babies when the Amazon River is at its high between the months of May and July.
Pink Dolphin Conservation
The World Conservation Union, also known as International Union for the conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization based in Gland, Switzerland, devoted to the conservation of natural resources.
It was founded in 1948 and groups 83 states, 108 governmental agencies and more than 10,000 scientists and experts from countries around the world.
The IUCN publishes a red list of threatened species which is a reference in the field and the base for conservation of species.
Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Frequently Asked Questions about Pink Dolphins
Where Do Pink Dolphins Live