Dolphins are marine mammals mostly inhabiting the sea waters. But some species of dolphins also inhabit the fresh waters in rivers. Out of the 24 species of dolphins discovered, only 4 inhabit fresh waters. One of the fresh water dolphin species is the pink dolphin, which is mostly found in the Amazon River and its tributaries.
The pink dolphins reside in the fresh waters of South America. They are present in the Orinoco and Atabapo rivers in Venezuela; Amazon River in Brazil and Peru and Beni River in Brazil and Bolivia. They are also seen in the waters of Rio Negro, Rio Tapajos and in the cloudy waters of the Rio Solimoes.
These pink dolphins feed alone unlike their counterparts in the sea which hunt and feed in a groups known as pods. Their favored locations for feeding are flooded forests and the shallow lakes.
The characteristic feature which gives them their name is their color, which is namely the pink colored belly and gray or light gray body. Sometimes they are completely pink as well. The coloration varies in pink dolphins which are attributed to factors, such as age, composition of that particular dolphin, and the water temperature where they live. Scientists attribute the change of color to the activity level which alters the blood flowing to that region of their body.
The physical traits of pink dolphins include a head shaped like a melon, absence of dorsal fin, presence of a hump on the back, unfused vertebrae of the neck which permits head turns by 180 degrees to maneuver through the flooded forests, long snout with sensors for detecting food on the river floor, large sized flippers in the front which enable swimming forward and backward and for crawling, and highly developed echo-location sense to facilitate navigation in the dark waters.
Pink dolphins prefer solitary existence and are found in a cluster at river conjunctions where food is in plenty. These dolphins usually feed on the fishes and the crustaceans available in the fresh waters. Their activity level is found to be at the highest during dusk and then again in dawn.
These dolphins have been kept in captivity for learning about their way of living, habits and so on. Although there are none in captivity in the United States and Canada as of now, a zoo in Germany called Duisburg Zoo houses a male pink dolphin, which is almost 35 years old. The Aquarium de Valencia in Venezuela is also popular among pink dolphin lovers as there are five of them living there.
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