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Amazon River Pink Dolphins
Dolphins are widely known as ocean inhabitants, however very few people realize that there are several species of fresh water dolphins living in some of the largest rivers in the world.
There are five species of dolphins that live in rivers, being the most popular of them the Pink Dolphin or Boto that lives in the Amazon River.
The Pink dolphins from the Amazon River are also known as Inia Geoffrensis, their scientific name.
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Dolphins in rivers like the Pink Dolphin have special adaptations to survive in their habitat, so they are not the same as the dolphins we usually know from the ocean.
In fact, pink dolphins are distantly related to sea dolphins as they belong to different families. Dolphins who live in oceans belong to the family Delphnidae, while river dolphins are part of the family Platanistoidea.
Among all the river dolphins, the Amazon River Pink Dolphins are the most intelligent of them, as they have a brain capacity 40% larger than humans.
While Pink Dolphins are known to inhabit the Amazon River, they can also be found in some other rivers in South America, like the Orinoco River and the Madeira River.
Pink dolphins are probably the last of the river dolphins as the other four species are very close to extinction. In fact, also pink dolphins have been listed by the International Union for Conservation of the Nature as endangered species.
The contamination levels of the Amazon River as well as the destruction of their habitat, has put pink dolphins in risk of extinction.
Pink Dolphin with Prey
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Facts about Pink Dolphins
Social Habits and behavior of Pink Dolphins
Pink dolphins are usually found alone or in couples contrasting with the group behavior of oceanic dolphins.
This behavior is the result of having no natural predators in the Amazon River, so pink dolphins do not need to live in pods for protection as ocean dolphins do.
However, pink dolphins also group in pods of 5 to 8 members to socialize, reproduce and hunt together, but they can split individually to avoid competing for food.
Pink dolphins are the friendliest of the river dolphins when dealing with humans and there are several stories of people being pushed to the shores by them.
What do Pink Dolphins Eat?
Pink dolphins eat crabs, catfish and small river fish.
As some of these species live at the bottom of the river, pink dolphins usually swim looking at the bottom of the river to find food.
To help perform this task, evolution has provided pink dolphins with a cervical vertebra that is not fused to the column, allowing them to move their head up to 180 degrees.
They swim up to 30 kilometers in one day, although they usually swim slowly looking for food at the bottom of the river.
Pink Dolphin Habitat
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Pink Dolphin Anatomy
Regardless their name, Pink dolphins can also be found in light gray or brown colors.
In fact, scientists have no evidence of the reason why pink dolphins are pink. It could be product of evolution to help them adapt to river life or by the presence of capillaries near the surface of the skin what provide them such color.
However, observation has shown that pink dolphins change their color when they are excited or surprised, very much like blushing in humans.
Amazon River dolphins are between six and eight feet long when adults, and weigh up to 355 pounds when they are fully grown.
Pink dolphins are smaller than sea dolphins but they have longer snouts, another adaptation provided by evolution, which is used by them to hunt at the bottom of the river.
Evolution has removed dorsal fins from Pink dolphins providing they with humpbacks instead.
Pink River Dolphins
Pink Dolphin Reproduction
Mating between a pair of pink dolphins, start a gestation period which lasts from nine to twelve months; they give birth to calves close to 75 cm long and 1 Kg weight.
Pink dolphins mate with the anticipation needed to deliver their babies when the Amazon River is at its high, which occurs between May and July.
As the other species of river dolphins, pink dolphins are almost blind, due to the muddy waters where they live in, but their brains are extremely large and well developed.
The Future of Pink Dolphins
As I mentioned before, pink dolphins are getting endangered because of the human activity in their habitat. While we all know that the economic development is needed to fulfill the needs of 6 billion humans, we as race need to find a way to progress without destroying everything else in this planet.