pink river dolphin

Among the different wonders that you will find within Peru, is its abundant wildlife. And if you plan to visit the Peruvian Amazon during your vacation in Peru, then you have to know everything it has to offer. In the Amazon Rainforest, you can find creatures that seem to belong to magical legends and myths. And among the most fantastic specimens to appreciate and observe is the largest freshwater cetacean on Earth. Of course, we are referring to the Pink River Dolphin. And together with the Machu Travel Peru team, we have prepared an article where we tell you all about pink dolphins. Learn all about these fascinating animals that you can meet during your next adventure.

Everything you need to know about the Pink River Dolphin


about pink river dolphin

Pink river dolphins are also known as “botos“. These look very different from marine dolphins. First of all, just as the name says, they are pink. At first, adult Amazon river-born dolphins are gray. But as they mature, they turn pinkish or grayish pink in color. Even the males are much larger and pinker than the females. They also feature low ridge-shaped dorsal fins, long, slender snouts. Not to mention, they have plump bodies, wide cheeks, and pronounced round foreheads. The Pink river dolphins have developed a unique look that they are easy to tell apart.

Despite this, they can be characterized by having small eyes. This may lead you to think that river dolphins have a hard time seeing, but in fact, their eyesight is very good. And these dolphins can turn their heads in all directions, giving them the option of observing from all angles. It is believed that its pink color could be due to the natural inclination of dolphins to fight. As his wounds heal, they become covered with pink scar tissue, which replaces his gray skin. They are one of the most fantastic Peruvian Animals to meet on your next vacation.


lone animals pink river dolphin

The Pink River Dolphins can usually be found alone or paired in small groups. You can find it in small groups of three to four individuals, but very rarely in large groups. Although it is sometimes possible to find from 20 to 40 botos feeding in the same region, they are not community animals. The Pink River Dolphin prefers to stand alone.

These river dolphins are renowned for being quite agile and having impressive maneuvers within the river. They are skilled swimmers and can very easily make their way through trees and bushes that are submerged. All in order to get their food. They feature large paddle-shaped fins that help them circulate independently. As you can imagine, this is very useful when they are looking for fast and prone prey to take refuge in places that are difficult to reach.

These animals are also usually very active at night and are believed to be curious animals by nature. Pink river dolphins have been known to approach canoes and grab fishermen’s oars with their picks.


diet of pink river dolphin

The Pink River Dolphins are the only dolphins with molar tooth equivalents, just like humans. And these fascinating dolphins use these teeth to grind up food before swallowing. Botos are not picky when it comes to choosing their food. And thanks to the biodiversity in Peru, these animals are happy within the Amazon regions of the Andean country. So they enjoy a varied diet of more than 40 species of fish, shrimp, turtles, and crabs. Their diet is quite diverse compared to other toothed whales, especially during the rainy season. Note that these Pink River Dolphins can grow up to 2.7 meters long (9 feet). Not to mention, they weigh up to 400 pounds (181 kilograms). It is also known that they can live up to 30 years


where to find pink river dolphin

Even though dolphins generally belong to the open sea, the Pink River Dolphins, as their name suggests, only live in freshwater. Within some tourist sites in Peru, you will be able to find them and appreciate them in all their splendor. And these distinctive dolphins live in huge rivers thousands of miles from the sea. You can find it most often in small tributaries, lakes, flooded forests, and submerged grasslands, among other places. These fascinating dolphins can be found in six countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. In addition, its largest resident populations exist in the Amazon and Orinoco river systems, as well as the Araguaia River in Brazil. Numerous tours offer the possibility of seeing and appreciating these enchanting animals. So if you are looking to spot it, you have to enjoy the many alternatives available in Peru.


pink river dolphin myths

These dolphins are unique and are the subject of many South American legends. One of the many stories affirms that during the night, the Pink River Dolphins transform into handsome men and seduce the women of the town. Other legends claim that if you go swimming alone, dolphins can take you to a magical underwater city. Even many of the locals believe that it is bad luck to harm these dolphins, especially if you eat them. And this semi-magical condition can help these lovely animals to be protected and treated with respect. Among all the things to do in Iquitos, being able to swim with these dolphins is one of the best things to experience.


smartest animals pink river dolphin

Among the five species of freshwater dolphins, the Amazon River Pink River Dolphin is at the top of the list. In addition to their large size and weight, they have unusually large brains. And when we say big, we mean big. Since they have 40 percent more brain capacity than ordinary humans. And despite being shy creatures, it is quite common to see them attracted to people. As we mentioned earlier, they get close to canoes and even local kids. All without showing aggressive behavior. They are naturally curious and communicate using high-frequency sonar clicks. With this, they can build a three-dimensional echogram of their surroundings. Which explains how they can navigate in their dark river world.


facts of the amazon pink river dolphin

For visitors, the Pink River Dolphin is a very charming and fascinating creature. While for the locals, this animal is considered part of Amazonian folklore. Despite this, the pink river dolphin is one of the endangered species of dolphins. They are usually recognizable, as their name suggests, by their distinguished pink color. And that is why this animal deserves a deeper study, so we will mention some interesting facts.


Pink river dolphins are actually quite large animals. These specimens can grow up to eight feet long. While they can weigh an average of 450 pounds or 204 kilograms. In addition, these animals are recognized for having much larger brains than other dolphins. They are very intelligent creatures, having 40 % more brain capacity than humans.


The people who live in the different Amazonian regions have given these animals a great variety of charming stories. Although it is unknown to what extent the stories are based on reality and which parts are imagined. But this does not mean that the mythology and folklore surrounding these dolphins is not entertaining. One of the many popular myths is that at night male dolphins turn into handsome men to seduce local women. But this way of mystifying these animals is an ingenious way to protect the animals. When an animal obtains this divine status within the culture, it is usually a bad omen to harm one of them.


Despite being named pink river dolphin, not all of them are pink. All dolphins are born grayish in color. These dolphins are originally born with a grayish color. And as they age, many of them turn pink, while others remain gray. However, for those who are pink, their hue can vary from pale pink to a kind of flamingo pink. Even when these dolphins get excited they can turn a much brighter pink.


Not surprisingly, being one of the most intelligent animals it has curious methods of courting its counterparts. Pink river dolphins have a very charming way of attracting mates. First of all, males usually pick up an object in their mouth. This can be anything from a reed, a branch to a living turtle. The male then waves this object in the air to attract potential mates. This is usually quite a sight to watch, not to mention that most of the time it works.


Pink river dolphins are social animals by nature. They love being together and are often even seen in packs. They usually move slowly in search of their next meal. Furthermore, it is known that when dolphins are lactating, the dolphins raise newborns together. Despite being very sociable animals, dolphin herds do not exceed 4 individuals. They can only be seen in groups of 20 or more when they are eating together.


When it comes to pink river dolphins, these are incredibly agile. Much of their agility is due to the fact that the vertebrae in their necks are not fused. They feature the ability to turn their head at a 90-degree angle. Which allows them to maneuver over a wide variety of obstacles. It is known that while swimming they can turn with great precision. They are also seen swimming upside down, to help them see the bottom of the river better. Their small eyes have excellent underwater eyesight and can catch prey with echolocation.


It is really difficult to know how many pink river dolphins exist in the Amazon. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers that the data is deficient. And much of this is because dolphins are only seen in small groups of 2 to 4 individuals. In addition, many of the river waters are murky and muddy, making specimens difficult to detect. In addition, they are intelligent animals and they do not care much to be seen. Many times they just stick the tip of their head out of the water and spend the rest of their time in the water. They have a shy and elusive demeanor, which adds a lot to their mythical qualities.


We hope we have helped you learn a little about these lovely animals. Today there are numerous routes and Peruvian Amazon tours where the possibility of swimming with these friendly dolphins is offered. Without a doubt, the Pink River Dolphin is one of the animals that you will not want to miss on your vacation. The Machu Travel Peru team hopes they have been helpful. If you want to know more about our different routes, you can consult with our team of advisers. They will be happy to help you swim with the curious dolphins!

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!