Out of all the five freshwater species of dolphins in the world, the pink Amazon River dolphin, Inia geoffrensis, or “bufeo colorado” as they are known in Peruvian regions, and “botos” as they are known in Brazil, are considered to be the most intelligent.
Endemic to the Araguaia/Tocantins River systems of South America, this dolphin is the largest freshwater cetacean, and it can grow larger than a human. Sizes ranging from six to seven feet in length, and upwards of several hundreds of pounds in weight.
These friendly, sensitive, mammals possess a brain capacity 40% larger than that of humans and have lived in harmony with the people of the Amazon and its tributaries for centuries.
Due to the lack of natural predators – other than, you guessed it, humans, they do not need to live in large pods for protection as other dolphin species do. However, they can be found in small family groups of 5 – 8 dolphins which are led by a dominant male. At some river confluences, witnesses have seen as many as 35 pink dolphins cooperatively herding and banking fish, often in association with the gray dolphins.
Although, what was once considered to be the least threatened species of dolphins 20 years ago, has now become one of the most endangered species due to the accelerated and commercialized rape of the Amazon basin and the destruction of the South American tropical rainforest.
The reasons for the unique pink coloration of Inia geoffrensis are poorly understood, but it’s theorized that the presence of capillaries near the surface of the skin probably account for much of its pink flush. Other factors include the age of the animal, chemical disposition in the water(such as iron content), and water temperature.
In some regions, the pink dolphins are considered as unpredictable brujos (wizards), and, in other locations, they are benign and helpful divine beings. For centuries, the gray dolphins have been regarded as ‘sacred’ animals by the various Indian tribes along the river. Up until recently, the dolphins and people who live along the Amazon River have existed in peace and harmony with each other. It has only been within the past several decades that the psychic relationship between humans and dolphins has been fractured as a result of deforestation and habitat destruction.