Oceans have many beautiful and mysterious creatures in their depth. Numerous breeds of fishes, corals, crabs, octopuses, etc., have been living there. Dolphins have been famous among humans for over a long time because of their friendly nature and easy adaptability with humans. People were astonished and wondered why are dolphins pink. Today, I will tell you about why are pink dolphins pink and where are they found.
1. What are Pink Dolphins?
Pink dolphins got the name due to their bright pink-colored skin, which is their unique characteristic. Generally, they are known as Amazon River Dolphins but also as pink river dolphins, boto, or bufeo. Scientifically, they are known as Inia geoffrensis. They belong to the species of toothed whale. There are three subspecies of pink dolphins, namely Amazon river dolphins, Bolivian river dolphins, and Orinoco river dolphins. (See Argentine Lake Duck Overview)
According to researchers, pink dolphins enjoy a wide variety of different species of fish, including turtles, crabs, piranhas, and other 50 species of Amazon fish. They easily puncture their prey and swallow it whole while their digestive system does all the work. Indigestible parts like the bones and teeth of their prey get excreted from their bodies.
2. What are their Physical Characteristics?
Pink Dolphins are relatively bigger than other dolphins.
- The length of a male pink dolphin can reach up to 7.6 feet (2.3 m), and females are smaller than males with a length of 6.6 feet (2 m).
- There is a drastic difference in the weight, where males can be 150 kilograms to 185 Kilograms (331 lb to 408 lb), and females are only 100 kilograms (220 lb) in weight. On average, their males are 55% heavier and 16% longer than females.
- Their jaws are lined with 25 to 28 pairs of different types of teeth. (See Why My Teeth Hurt After Waking Up?)
- They have a heterodont dentition which means their teeth differ in shape, size, and function.
- Sexual dimorphism is quite evident among the two sexes, but both males and females have a melon. Adipose tissue mass is present inside the head of all toothed whales on their heads.
- The melon is the organ responsible for the whale’s vocalizations. It also acts as a sound lens used by whales and dolphins as biosonar or echolocator.
Apart from why are pink dolphins pink, I have been curious about their swimming capabilities as well. They have large pectoral fins allowing them to swim comfortably through narrow channels, canals, flooded forests, etc. Their eyes may be small in size, but their eyesight is remarkable inside and outside water. (See 7 Sugar Glider Habitat Facts)
3. Are Pink Dolphins Born Pink?
To start with why are pink dolphins pink and their characteristics, you must know that they are not born pink. They are born with dark grey tint-colored skin. As the baby reaches adolescence, their skin color becomes light grey. Male dolphins often indulge in intra-species aggression resulting in more abrased skin. But eventually, all dolphins of this species turn pink because their grey skin extracts naturally.
4. Why are Dolphins Pink?
Males are more vibrant pink than females, and the color varies between solid pink and mottled pink. Researchers believe that the difference in the intensity of the pink color maybe because of:
- Differences in the water transparencies, temperature & geographical locations of these dolphins.
- Differences in age, location of blood vessels, exposure to sunlight, diet, and mood.
Another hypothesis about why are pink dolphins pink, researchers mentioned that this coloration could be a method of camouflage for these dolphins to escape predators and confuse their prey. (See Top 8 World’s Smallest Animals)
5. Where are Pink Dolphins Found?
The presence and distribution of Amazon River Dolphins in the rivers and surrounding areas generally depend on the part & season of the year. They are found close to the river beds during the summer or dry season. But during the rainy season, the water gets over-flooded, and dolphins spread across the water bodies, flowing through forests and plains. Amazon River dolphins are most widespread and are native to Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, South America, and Venezuela. (See 8 Types of Possums)
6. How are Pink Dolphins Different from Other Dolphins?
- Dolphins are sighted single or in pairs. But if they are traveling, migrating, or hunting in pods (groups), then there can be eight dolphins. However, locals have witnessed the pods of 30 to 35 pink dolphins.
- They are known to have Cetacean intelligence, the ability which makes them aware of their own body parts and of their environment too. They are known to express & experience basic emotions.
- Dolphins are fast learners, and they learn primarily through mimicking. They can recall their own behavior, actions, and reactions towards certain situations.
- They are gentle with children, though researchers call them non-human persons.
- Pink dolphins use whistling tones to communicate with each other. But after acoustic analysis, researchers concluded that their whistling pattern is different from other species of dolphins. (See What Was Before Dinosaurs?)
7. Are Dolphins Endangered?
Researchers are unsure of how many years, on average, they live in their natural habitat. But in captivity, they survive for 10 to 30 years. Though they are not extinct yet, they have been threatened by humans at large. Towards 2018, they have were added to the list of endangered species. (See Why are the Bottlenose Dolphins becoming endangered?)
8. How are Pink Dolphins being Conserved?
Amazon river dolphins or Pink river dolphins have been listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Fauna and Flora or in short, CITES and Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). (See Why are Zoos important?)