Pink dolphins, also called Amazon river dolphins, are river-dwelling marine mammals. They primarily inhabit the rivers running through South America. This dolphin lives in fresh water, and scientifically known as Inia geoffrensis. There are 3 sub-species of the pink dolphin found in different river branches of the Amazon. This is the largest river dolphin in the world. The pink dolphin was initially described in 1818 by Henri-Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, who was French zoologist.
The goes without saying that the dolphin gets its name because of its pink coloring. The average length of an adult dolphin is between 2.5 and 3 meters and it can weigh as much as 200 pounds. There is a gender difference among pink dolphins, with males being larger than females. When it comes to appearance, the pink dolphin looks similar to the gray dolphin, but is much bigger in size. However, the most distinctive feature of the pink dolphin is that the dorsal fin is missing from its back. Instead, the dolphin is equipped with a hump. Also, the dolphin has separated vertebrae in its neck and this allows it to turn its head a hundred and eighty degrees, something that other dolphins cannot do. This allows the dolphin to look at things from one side to the next and also up and down. The dolphin has special sensory hair on its snout that helps it to locate potential prey swimming in the muddy waters of the river.
The pink dolphin is believed to be extremely intelligent and is in fact the most intelligent river dolphin. Also, it may come as a surprise to learn that this dolphin has a brain that is 40 bigger than a human's brain.
As mentioned previously, the pink dolphin lives in fresh water rivers in the Amazon. They mainly live in Orinoco River, Amazon River, Araguaia River and Tocantins River which flow through Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The rivers cover a large area and hence, the habitat of the pink dolphin is large and varied. These dolphins are known to swim inland when the rivers swell and break their banks.
The pink dolphin is well adapted to living in these tropical waters. They have the necessary adaptations to hunt their prey. Their front teeth are especially designed to catch prey with ease, and they tend to subsist on crabs, catfish, crustaceans, piranhas and small-sized turtles.
Besides being called the pink dolphin and Amason river dolphin, this species has several other names, such as boto vermelho, boto cor-de-rosa and pink porpoise. While the pink dolphin has no natural enemies in the rivers, as there are no freshwater sharks and whales, its number is dwindling due to pollution and human activity. Many dolphins are killed by fishermen in the river, pollution and human encroachment of its natural habitat.
If the felling of the rainforests are not stopped and the river system of the Amazon is not protected, the pink dolphin may become extinct and we may no longer have the pleasure of observing this beautiful creature in its natural habitat. While various governments are educating the locals about living together with the pink dolphins, the destruction of the rainforest is taking a toll on the rivers and changing their course. As the food sources of the dolphin decrease, the number of these dolphins is also decreasing. While the exact number of pink dolphins in the wild is not known, habitat destruction is wreaking havoc with populations of the dolphin. Research is ongoing to find out the number of dolphins living in the different river systems of the Amazon and hopefully, we will have a clearer picture in the near future.
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Buzzle.com: Pink Dolphin Facts