Amazon River Dolphin
The Amazon River Dolphin is often referred to as the pink river dolphin. This is due to its iconic pink skin which is completely unique in the dolphin kingdom. This species of dolphin is also distinctive in being one of the few in which the females are larger than the males. Body length can be anything from 5 to 8 feet and adult Amazon River dolphins can weigh up to 220 lb.
The Amazon River Dolphin lives only on the continent of South America. It is a freshwater dolphin and can be found in the Amazon basin and the Orinoco and Araguaia Rivers in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru.
Living in a river presents itself with very different challenges to living in the open sea, so river dolphins have adapted differently to their marine counterparts. They have unfused vertebrae in their necks and spines which gives them a greater degree of flexibility. They can turn their heads 90 degrees to the left and right and can maneuver themselves through small gaps and round tight corners. This is particularly useful after the rainy season, when trees have fallen into the rivers creating cumbersome obstacles.
Amazon River dolphins also behave in different ways to saltwater dolphins. Adult male pink river dolphins have often been seen carrying different objects in their mouths. These objects range from small sticks to relatively large branches, masses of leaves and balls of hard clay. It is thought that this is part of the river dolphins’ mating ritual and that this is one way that adult males can make themselves seem impressive in the eyes of the females.
Calves are born after a gestation period of between 9 and 12 months. They are born measuring around 3 feet long and weighing up to 15 lb. Most of the pink river dolphin calves are born between July and September and spend at least a few months swimming very closely alongside their mothers.
Until 2011, the species was listed as a vulnerable species on the red list of endangered species. To this day, there are increasing concerns over the impact of constant boat traffic, deforestation and habitat loss, overfishing and pollution on the populations of pink river dolphins living in some of the world’s busiest rivers. The status of ‘vulnerable species’ had to be revoked as there was not enough data to confirm the extent of the impact that these elements are having on the dolphins themselves. The conservation status of the pink river dolphin now simply reads ‘data deficient’.
Amazon River Dolphin