Wildlife Wednesday: Amazon River Dolphin

Learn about the Amazon river dolphin – an adorable pink porpoise that lives in freshwater.

What cute creature loves to play and lives in freshwater rivers? No, not the river otter. I’m talking about the Amazon river dolphin, another freshwater mammal that’s being threatened by human activity.

Habitat: As its name implies, the Amazon river dolphin lives in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins.


  • Aliases: pink river dolphin, boto.
  • Why are many Amazon river dolphins pink? There is no definitive answer, but researchers have suggested that it could have to do with the iron content or temperature of the water.
  • These dolphins boast a brain capacity that is 40 percent larger than our own. Of the five river dolphin species, the Amazon River variety is considered the smartest.
  • They use echolocation to locate prey in muddy water, and dine on more than 40 different kinds of fish.
  • According to Amazonian folklore, river dolphins have magical powers. Some legends say that they’re capable of turning into beautiful men and women who lure amorous victims into the river.

Why river dolphins are threatened 

According to most sources, there’s just not enough information to classify river dolphin populations as stable or endangered. Nevertheless, threats to these dolphins’ well-being have caused some organizations to classify them as a vulnerable species.

In the past, locals tended not to harm river dolphins due to beliefs about the animals’ magical abilities. Unfortunately, today’s local fishermen (no longer fearing that they’ll be seduced and drowned) are more likely to treat the dolphins as competitors for fish. Dolphins have also been known to collide with fishing boats and become tangled in nets. Adding to the problem, pollution by river development projects and ruptured oil pipelines has done a number on the dolphins’ habitat.

Are you enamored by the Amazon river dolphin? (Symbolically) adopt one of your own and receive a pink plushie in support of the World Wildlife Foundation’s efforts to sustain their populations.

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