Botos or Pink Dolphin in the Amazon River

In the Amazon Rainforest, there are countless creatures of relative strangeness. It is the inheritance of rainforests to have such a high number of diverse species. Of the numerous creatures, there is one that stands out by the metric aesthetics and irregularity, this is the Amazon River dolphin. It is also called the Boto and the pink river dolphin. They look similar to marine pink dolphins but are distinctive. It is a marin mammal like it’s saline brethren but cannot survive in salt water. They can grow up to 2 to 3 meters in length and can weigh up to 160 kilos. Their iconic color is believe it or not, determined largely by their age. At younger ages, they appear gray, much like the oceanic variant. During their adult years however, they start to take upon their famous pink hue. In accordance with many instances in nature, the males usually have a pinker color. The males are also a bit bigger than the females being from 16% to 55% bigger. Their colors will then fade with age, leading to a blueish gray during their later years.

                The lifespan of these creature depends on their environment. In the wild, they can be expected to live an average lifespan of up to 33 months. Their concentration is mostly around the Amazon River, which of course is a large area, but they are not limited to that area. They have been known to congregate in the basins of the Orinoco and the upper Madeira River as well. The Botos are generally found within the confines of the rivers, dwelling in white water, clear water, or black water rivers of the lowlands. They also can be found in surrounding lakes and within flooded rainforests.

                The dolphins are social and friendly creatures much like oceanic dolphins. Even more like the dolphins in the oceans, these pink porpoises can jump out of the water. A peculiarity however is their unique swimming method. They can be seen swimming upside down upon the surface. The reason is not exactly known as to why they do this. Theories have been proposed that their cheeks actually obscure their vision, so swimming upside down will let them view what is beneath them. If this is true, than this is a smart adaptation. There aren’t any creatures by air that can pose too much of a threat to them (harpy eagles or other birds of prey). Most of their threats would exist beneath. These dolphins are also mainly reliant on fish for food, consuming over 50 types of fish. They also can eat crustaceans and turtles.

                The male Botos will try to court the females. The females, being sexually selective, look for a couple of things, namely gifts. The male will bring over objects like branches, floating vegetation, or hardened balls of clay to woo the females affection. If the female accepts, then the pair will mate. Later, when the calves are born, it is within flooding season. The flooding allows the Botos to access safe areas with ample nutrition for them to grow. When born, the calves are about 31 inches and the birth itself takes 4 to 5 hours. Like all other marine mammals, or rather mammals in general, the offspring they produce are not precocial and these calves need 2 to 3 years to mature to adulthood. The babies will learn from their parents and the lactation period lasts rather long, suggesting that there is a tight bond between mother and calves.

                The Boto is truly a unique porpoise. It not only lives in a tough environment, but thrives and is able to fulfill a unique niche within the Amazon River. One of its greatest threats is not predation but rather the pollution that has been spread throughout the river. They are currently on the endangered list. Only time will tell if we can save these rose colored porpoises. The responsibility is on our shoulders alone.