Amazon River Dolphin Facts

The Amazon River dolphin, inia geoffrensis, goes by many other names such as boto, nay and pink dolphin, just to name a few. Males are slightly longer than females, measuring 8.8 feet (2.7 meters) in length while females are only 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) long. They weigh anywhere from 187 to 352 pounds (85 to 160 kilograms). Adults have bodies that are various shades of pink depending on the clarity of the water where they live (the darker the water, they pinker the animal will be). They have long beaks and no dorsal fin, but rather a dorsal ridge.

The Amazon River dolphin can be found in South America, specifically Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Guyana. They inhabit both the Amazon and Orinoco River systems. This species will either travel alone or in mother-and-offspring pairs. They will swim slowly most of the time, but can reach short bursts of speed up to 14 miles (23 kilometers) per hour. Whenever their water systems overflow, these animals are able to go onto the flooded land, navigate their way through the trees and still make it back home with minimal effort.

The diet of an Amazon River dolphin consists of a variety of fish as well as crustaceans and sea turtles. They use both echolocation and the stiff hairs on their beak (which are a sensory organ) to locate their prey, which is often located at the bottom of their home. Once food has been located, they will grab hold of it using the conical teeth located at the front of its mouth. The victim is then ground up by the molars located in the back of the mouth before being swallowed. Feeding is sometimes done in groups of up to 15 individuals and may also contain sotalia (another dolphin species).

Breeding season for the Amazon River dolphin takes place from late October to early November. Females will give birth to a single offspring (called a calf) after a gestation period of around 8 to 9 months. The calf is born when water levels are starting to drop, which forces the fish back to the main waterways. It is not known exactly how long calves will nurse for, but there was a report of one nursing at 1 year old. Although the is exact lifespan for these creatures is unknown, they are believed to live for up to 30 years in the wild.

The Amazon River dolphin is not listed as an endangered species, but they are very much under intense pressure. They used to be somewhat protected as they were seen as sacred by the locals, but some now see them as competitors for fish and kill them. Other threats include accidental entanglement by fish nets, the damming of rivers for hydroelectric development, and contamination of their home by mercury mining operations, just to name a few. Hopefully, such obstacles can be overcome so that the Amazon River dolphin can continue to live peacefully alongside humans. After all, such a unique marine mammal deserves to live and prosper for future generations to see.

Works Cited

“Amazon River Dolphin (Inia Geoffrensis)” 8 August 2011

“Amazon River Dolphin” 8 August 2011

“Amazon River Dolphin” 8 August 2011

“Ina Geoffrensis, Amazon River Dolphin” 8 August 2011

“Boto (Inia Geoffrensis)” 8 August 2011

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