Pink River Dolphin
One of the Amazon’s most flabbergasting sights is the pink river dolphin rising above the waters of lakes or rivers. Unlike their ocean-going relatives, these dolphins have a strange dorsal hump that gives them an S-shape and a huge set of flippers. Their elastic vertebrae allows them to contort their pinkish bodies nearly in half in search of crustaceans and fish in the grassy waters and flooded forests of the Amazon.
Their pink color comes mainly from capillaries near the surface of the skin.
Pink river dolphins occupy a special place in Amazon mythology. Some tribes consider it a sacred animal, while others regard them as an evil spirit that seduces young women. Regardless of its exact reputation, the pink river dolphin has never been hunted by Amazon indigenous people. As a result, it was extremely common in the lower waterways of the Amazon up until about 30 years ago.
The biggest enemies of the dolphin these days are deforestation, which has damaged its aquatic home, and gill nets, which ensnare and drown dolphins.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition