Amazon river dolphin surfacing in Pacaya Samiria National Park, Peru
The Dolphin of the Mighty Amazon
Also referred to as the Pink Porpoise, the Pink Dolphin and Boto (its Brazilian name), this creature is the largest, most common and most widely distributed river dolphin in the world. Depending on age of the dolphin as well as water clarity, temperature and location, its body color may vary from a vivid pink to bluish gray or off-white.
Found in river systems in South America, usually near junctions of rivers and tributaries, there are three recognized distinct populations of the Amazon river dolphin - one each in the Orinoco Basin, Amazon Basin and Upper Madeira River.
Subsisting on a varied diet, the Amazon river dolphin feeds on more than 50 species on fish and the occasional shellfish or turtle, using its rear molar-like teeth to crush hard-bodied prey. It is able to be more selective in foraging during the dry season when lower water levels compress fish populations. During the wet season, it can be spotted in flooded jungles swimming between trees, where it sometimes becomes stranded in pools as water levels recede.
The Amazon river dolphin currently still populates most of its range. However, it is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) because its future numbers are threatened by degraded water quality from deforestation and the disposal of industrial wastes, untreated sewage and chemical contaminants. Conservationists hope to save the species from the fate of the Yangtze River Dolphin by acting before its populations are radically reduced.