pink river dolphin
Scientific nameInia geoffrensis
Common nameAmazon river dolphins
SubspeciesOrinoco river dolphins, Bolivian river dolphins, and Amazon river dolphins
DietMore than 40 species of fish, shrimp, turtles, and crabs
SizeThey can grow up to 2.7 meters long (9 feet)
WeightThey weigh up to 400 pounds (181 kilograms)
Lifespan12 – 18 years
PredatorsCaimans, large snakes, and Jaguar. But, once they reach adolescence, their predators decrease to only the human factor.

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 in these 11 facts

1. Why are these dolphins pink?

pink river dolphin

Pink river dolphins are also known as “botos”. These look very different from marine dolphins. First, just as the name says, they are pink, and also feature low ridge-shaped dorsal fins, and 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.

Also, 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.

2. But, not all of them are pink

beautiful pink river dolphin

Despite being named the pink river dolphins, not all of them are pink. 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.

3. Pink color as a weapon of seduction


Not surprisingly, being one of the most intelligent animals, it has curious methods of courting its counterparts. Pink river dolphins have two very charming ways of attracting mates. First, the more pink the dolphin is, the better for the female. Remember that their coloration is due to scar tissue from fighting. So the pinker, the more aggressive, the more aggressive the better for protecting the hatchlings. Second, the males usually pick up an object in their mouth. This can be anything from a reed or 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, attracting happy mates.

4. The largest species of dolphins

large pink river dolphin

Pink river dolphins are quite large animals. These specimens can grow up to eight feet long. While they can weigh an average of 450 pounds or 204 kilograms.

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. Even the males are much larger and pinker than the females.

5. The smartest dolphins

smart pink river dolphin

Among the five species of freshwater dolphins, the Pink River Dolphin on Amazon in Peru 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 used 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 murky Amazon River world.

6. Excellent swimmers

pink river dolphin happy

When it comes to pink river dolphins, these are incredibly agile. Much of their agility is because while swimming they can turn with great precision. After all, the vertebrae in their necks are not fused. Therefore, they can turn their head at a 90-degree angle. Which allows them to maneuver over a wide variety of obstacles. They are also seen swimming upside down, to help them see the bottom of the river better and make their way through trees and bushes that are submerged. All to get their food. Their small eyes have excellent underwater eyesight and can catch prey with echolocation.

7. Socials with humans, lonely among them

sociable pink river dolphin

Social and solitaries, at the same time? Yes, you didn’t read wrong, but quite the opposite. These amazing animals are still being researched by foreign scholars and, bit and bit, we are learning more about them. In this sense, we can define these two facts.

Social with humans

friendly pink river dolphin

The Pink river dolphin is very friendly. Among all Amazon rainforest animals, the Pink river dolphins are very social with humans. They love to get close to boats in packs of up to 4 members (usually mothers and sons) to play in front of sight and patience, even some of these pink friends manage to snatch the oar from some distracted fisherman and run away with their loot. When Pink River dolphins are eating or lactating their young, these are often seen in groups of 20 members or more, moving slowly in search of their next meal or raising their newborns together. Despite this, the rest of their time, they usually swim alone.

Alone among them

lonely pink river dolphin

The Pink River Dolphins can usually be found alone, in pairs, or in small groups of up to 4 members. But very rarely in large groups. Unless they are eating or raising young Pink River Dolphins. If you make tourism in Peru through a travel agency, it is possible to find from 20 to 40 members in their natural habitat, of course, guided with the expert view of your tour guide. But in general, the Pink River Dolphin prefers to stand alone most of its time.

8. The diet of the pink river dolphins

pink river dolphin diet

Pink river dolphins are usually very active at night and not picky when it comes to choosing their food. Of course, thanks to the biodiversity in Peru, these animals are happy within the Amazon regions of the Andean country, enjoying a varied diet of more than 40 species of fish, shrimp, turtles, and crabs. As you can see, their diet is quite diverse compared to other toothed whales. For this reason, they have developed molar tooth equivalents, just like humans, due to their varied diets. Precisely, these fascinating dolphins use these teeth to grind up food before swallowing.

9. Areas to see them

habitat pink river dolphin

Numerous Peruvian tours offer the possibility of seeing and appreciating these enchanting animals. Therefore, among the interesting things to do in Peru, swimming with pink river dolphins should be your first option. Therefore, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve will be your place, there you will be able to find them and appreciate all their splendor.

Besides seeing them in this national reserve, you will see them in their natural habit, in huge rivers thousands of miles from the sea, in small tributaries, lakes, flooded forests, and submerged grasslands, among other places belonging to 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.

10. Dolphins of reserved nature

pink river dolphin nature reserve

To the question, How many pink river dolphins are left? It is really difficult to know how many pink river dolphins exist in the Amazon. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, 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. This may be because they are intelligent animals, and they do not care much to be seen. They have a shy and elusive demeanor, however, in the last years, the IUCN, seeing some refuges and conservation sites located throughout the Amazon basin where some Amazon animals endangered lived, including the Pink river dolphin, decided to include them in the category of Endangered (EN).

In other words, the Pink river dolphin is an animal endangered, but Why? because the indiscriminate fishing of the food they consume like shrimp, turtles, and crabs, decrease the quantity of food for them every year. Besides, many of them get caught in fishing nets, suffering irreversible damage. And the total ignorance of its population puts the Pink river dolphin on the list of animals in danger of extinction.

11. Pink river dolphins, surrounded by myths and legends

pink river dolphin mistery

For many years, the surrounding people of the Peruvian Amazon and general foreign people wondered if the Pink river dolphins were real. Well, these dolphins are very real. Even, they are the subject of many native 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.


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. We are always ready to listen to you, therefore they will inform you, immediately, about our different routes. And they will be happy to help you swim with the curious dolphins!

The Andean country has such great biodiversity that a visitor never knows where to start. But, rest assured that Machu Travel Peru and its long trajectory in the tourism sector will be ready to assist you with any aspect of your Machu Picchu tour or Peru vacation. We assure you of unforgettable memories of your visit to Machu Picchu and Peru!