Pink Dolphin

Pink / Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) in the Negro River, municipality of Novo Airão, Amazonas State, Brazil.

When I heard (NPR) that pink dolphins, those denizens of the fresh waters of the Amazon are going extinct, I remembered their gift to me, grateful that I had been present as a receiver. On the last day of a three – year research journey (early 90’s) I was with my guide returning to a place on the river that I loved. It was absolutely calm; my guide and I were drifting along a  serpentine tributary curtained and dripping with scarlet passionflowers when a circle of pink dolphins surrounded the dugout.

 “I love you,” I repeated the words over and over in a trance-like state glued to the rippling brown water.

Round and round they came surfacing inches away from the side of the boat. Bulbous heads splashing pink and gray.

The Circle of Life was being inscribed in the water. 

When one broke the round to swim away, it was time to say goodbye. I thanked them for their steadfast company during my Amazon journey. 

Each of my many visits had begun with a dolphin encounter. My guides were initially astonished by the way these animals seemed to follow me up and down the river, and by the end of my first stay two of them shook their heads and rolled their eyes while declaring that the dolphins loved me. I believed them. 

Now, many years later I am saying goodbye to an enduring friendship with a species I adored.

Reciprocity is fundamental to relationship but it must be predicated on genuine care/love as well as mutual need. This is another way of saying that our attention and intention comprise the weft and warp that weave us together. My relationship with the dolphins is a perfect example. I longed to see them, to make friends with these remarkable creatures. That longing manifested as my intention and attention. I opened my self to believing that the dolphins would come. The dolphins responded in kind out of awareness and choice.

We are all connected.

Natural History: Pink Dolphin

The Amazon River dolphin, also known as the pink River dolphin or boto, lives only in freshwater. This species is found throughout much of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela. The botos used to be a relatively abundant freshwater cetacean. This animal is the largest and (some say) smartest of the 5 freshwater species. Pink dolphins can grow up to 9 feet in length and weigh 400 lbs. They can live up to thirty years and they have unusually large brains. It is not unusual to see one dolphin, but more often they are seen in small groups, and in areas where there is a confluence of river tributaries it is possible to see many together (one of the unusual aspects of my last experience with the dolphins was that so many gathered in such a small area).

The dolphins’ color can be influenced by their behavior, capillary placement, diet, and exposure to sunlight. Shades range from mostly gray to pink. And when the dolphins get excited, they can flush a brilliant flamingo pink.

The vertebrae in the necks of pink dolphins are not fused; their ability to turn their heads 180 degrees allows them to maneuver around sunken tree trunks, rocks and other obstacles necks in very shallow flooded waters. They can also swim forward with one flipper while paddling backwards with the other, this ability allows them to turn with more precision. They can also swim upside down!

These dolphins seem very attracted to people in general. Their curiosity appears to be a driving force in human dolphin interactions.

 I can’t help wondering who will bring such joy and playfulness to the Amazon when the pink dolphins are gone?