One of the most exotic species of Amazônia – and one found nowhere else in the world – is the Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis). Also known as the Pink Dolphin and locally as Boto, these freshwater mammals are as mysterious as they are mythical. It is the largest of the world’s freshwater dolphins with males reaching weights of more than 400 pounds and lengths of over eight feet. Males are larger than females and are often more vibrant in color. Despite the moniker of Pink Dolphin, it is born dark gray in color. Skin color lightens with age and eventually turns pink with repeated skin abrasion. Water temperature, transparency, and geographic location are also factors in color variants.
Amazon River Dolphins are mostly solitary but are occasionally found in small groups, generally of no more than four, called pods. Unlike oceanic dolphins, Amazon River Dolphins do not have fused cervical vertebrae and can therefor turn their head upwards of 90 degrees. This feature, along with its over-sized pectoral fins, make it an extremely maneuverable hunter and capable of speeding through flooded forest with ease. Diet is extremely varied with adults eating a wide array of fish, crabs, and even turtles.
Amazon River Dolphins are revered by those living along the river and there are many myths about this unique species. Among some of the more popular myths are that males can turn themselves into humans at night for the sole purpose of seducing women, that catching the gaze of a dolphin will give you nightmares, or that dolphins live in an underwater city known as Encante.
One thing about Amazon River Dolphins that is not a myth is the fact that it will steal the fish right off your line if you don’t reel it in fast enough.