Visitors to Uakari Lodge are always impressed by the amount of dolphins that can be seen at Mamirauá Reserve!
This series would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about one of the most iconic animals in the Amazon: the famous pink dolphin! Yes, it is possible (and even frequent 😃 ), to see them during the boat trips from Uakari Lodge, the breath of air announces the presence of these giants: these animals weigh between 150 and 200 kg and on average 2 meters long!
The pink dolphin or red dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) occurs in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins, and is thus found in six countries in South America: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Unfortunately, just like our character from the last post, Inia geoffrensis is yet another ‘endangered’ species on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) with accidental capture in fishing nets being the main cause of deaths. The loss of some individuals from a subpopulation can cause an initial and irreparable decline in it, since it is a species of slow reproduction: the females gestate a single calf for 11 months, the pups only feed on milk until the age of three and they will be sexually mature at about five.
Genetic evidence and the very anatomy of these dolphins suggest that the species’ ancestor must have come from the Pacific Ocean before the Andes erupted, approximately 20 million years ago, and had been trapped by the Amazon rivers since this event. The porpoises then had a lot of time to adapt to the environment, being very different from the marine dolphins, which are more popularly known.
Inia geoffrensis is the only dolphin that can turn its neck, since the vertebrae that connect the head to the backbone are not fused as in other species. In addition, the pectoral fins are larger and capable of making independent circular movements, which makes it possible for the pink dolphins to swim and hunt in the flooded forest without getting caught in it as they manage to perform maneuvers such as swimming backwards.
The pink color is due to the numerous very thin blood capillaries under the skin and is more prominent in males, probably a way of showing good health to females. In fact, males are very aggressive towards each other when they are trying to attract a female, often hurting each other.
Perhaps these efforts of the males in the dispute for the attention of the females was what generated the reputation of gallant of this animal in the folklore. In the beliefs of traditional peoples, the dolphin is transformed into a handsome and well-dressed man (he is always wearing a hat so that no one sees the breathing hole at the top of his head) that seduces the riverside girls. It is said that if there is a woman expecting a child, but does not know who the father is, then she is pregnant with the dolphin. Working at Uakari Lodge, I heard many stories from my riverside friends, some say that there is both the male dolphin that delights women and the female dolphin that delights men, taking their victims to the bottom of the river, where there is the beautiful enchanted city of the dolphins, with luck the person comes back to tell what he saw and lived.
. Texto e imagens: Cynthia Lebrão