Scientific Name: Inia Geoffrensis
The amazon river dolphins or botos are born grey and become pinker with age. This is because, as the dolphin grows older, its skin becomes more translucent allowing the blood to show through. When excited, they will flush to a bright pink temporarily, like your face might when you get embarrassed or excited. They have a long powerful beak, small eyes and are slow swimmers. They also have small hairs on their snout which may help them find foot from the muddy river bottom. They can reach up to ten feet long and two hundred pounds. They are unique among dolphins for having molar-like teeth and can chew their prey. They are quite solitary animals, and are found in the main rivers of the Amazon and Orinoco river systems of tropical South America.
Pink River Dolphins inhabit muddy stagnant water, and during flooding will move onto the flooded forests leaving them at risk of stranding. They are however extremely flexible so they can weave through the obstacles of trees as they search for their prey. They are a completely freshwater species, never venturing into salt water. Because Amazon River dolphins do not have any known natural predators — other than humans — they do not need to live in large protective groups called pods. Pink dolphins hunt alone during the high water season when their prey disperse into the floodplains. At other times, they are found in small family groups of 5-8 animals which seem to be led by a dominant adult male. At river confluences, as many as 35 pink dolphins work together to catch their prey. They feed on crustaceans, crabs, catfish, and small fresh water fish. A unique characteristic of the pink river dolphin is the unfused vertebrae in its neck, which allows for the 180-degree head turn, giving them greater flexibility in floodplain forests, grassland, tributaries and shallow waters. Another added hunting benefit is their excellent eyesight which they use to locate prey in clear water. In murky water they emit a series of clicking noises, 30 to 80 per second, which they then use as sonar by listening for them to bounce off of potential prey. They give screeching alarm calls to warn other dolphins of predators.
Of the five freshwater species of dolphins in the world, the pink Amazon River dolphin also known as botos, are considered to be the most intelligent. These friendly, sensitive, mammals have a brain capacity 40% larger than that of humans. They have lived in harmony with the people of the Amazon and its tributaries for centuries, but now face extinction in some areas. Twenty years ago the pink river dolphin was considered to be one of the least threatened species of dolphins, but now they have become one of the most endangered species due to human interference. The accelerated and commercialized destruction of the Amazon Rainforest has contributed to threatened survival of the pink river dolphin. The Amazon River Dolphin is currently threatened by habitat destruction, hydroelectric dam projects, mercury poisoning from gold prospecting, accidental entangling in fishing nets, pollution, and boat traffic.