When we talk about Pink dolphins, the name is actually used for two kinds of dolphins. The Chinese White Dolphin and Amazon River Dolphin, both of them are unique and rare. Let’s find out the difference between the two and also why they are found under the same category i.e. Pink Dolphin.
Chinese White Dolphin
Don’t get confused by the name Chinese White Dolphins because they are not just found in China’s Pearl Delta River, in Southeast Asia but also stretch from South Africa to Australia. These dolphins are not actually pink, but are white in color and have pink spots on them. These dolphins change a variety of colors before turning white. The babies are born with black skin, after some time the black color changes to grey and pink spots start to appear. As they grow old, the grey color fades into white color. This is the reason why they are known as Chinese White Dolphins and the pink spots on their body puts them under the category of Pink Dolphins.
The scientific name for the Chinese white dolphin is Sousa chinensis chinensis and it is also known as Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. Scientists say that it belongs to the humpback dolphin species out of the 80 species of cetaceans existing. Many people confuse this dolphin with albino dolphins, another rare species of dolphin.
When you look at this dolphin the pink spots might appear as pigmentation to you but actually it’s not, the pink color is due to the overdeveloped blood vessels for thermoregulation. The body size ranges from 6ft 7in to 11ft 6in or 2m to 3.5 m in adults whereas, the infant dolphins are usually 1 m or 3ft 3in long. Their weight varies from 150 to 230 kg i.e. equal to 330lb to 510 lb.
The ages of these dolphins can be analyzed by counting their teeth. Usually the life span of these dolphins is up to 40 years. There are two subspecies of this dolphin the one found in Southeast Asia are pinkish white in color and have larger dorsal fin, the breeds found in South Africa and Australia have a fatty hump and relatively smaller dorsal fin, which distinguish the two species. The specie found in South Africa and Australia is also known as Sousa chinensis plumbea.
These dolphins usually breathe for 20 to 30 seconds after rising to the water surface and then dive back deeper into the water. The baby dolphins however appear on the surface of the water twice as much as the adult dolphins. The adult dolphins can stay under water for 2 to 8 minutes whereas their calves can only stay for 1 to 3 minutes.
These dolphins live a sociable life and are found in groups of 3 to 4. The females reach maturity at the age of 10 years whereas males become mature at the age of 13 years. The mating seasons begins at the end of summer and lasts till autumn, total gestation period varies from 11 to 12 months and females can give birth after every 3 years. The parents of young calves look after them till they become mature enough to find food on their own.
If you are interested in Dolphin watching boat trips are available from Honk Kong to view the white dolphins living in the Lantau, Peng Chau and Soko Islands.
The Amazon River Dolphins
The Amazon river dolphins are also scientifically known as Inia geoffrensis and are found in the river systems of Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. IUCN has listed these dolphins to be vulnerable species because of the excessive boat traffic, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution. It is commonly known by many names such as boto, boto vermelho, boto cor-de-rosa, bouto, bufeo and pink dolphin. These dolphins are known to grow larger in size than humans and the length of their body ranges from 5ft to 7.9ft. The females are found to be larger than males and reach to a length of 8.2 ft whereas male dolphins reach to a length of 6.6ft. The females weigh up to 98.5kg whereas males weigh around 94kg.
They can turn their heads to 180 degrees; the reason is their flexible neck that enables them to move their neck in both the directions. Usually they have 24-34 molar teeth contained in their long beaks. There are 3 subspecies recognized currently, they are:
- g. geoffrensis breeds in the Amazon and Araguaia or Tocantins basins
- I. g. humboldtiana is found in the Orinoco basin
- I. boliviensis is found in Bolivian sub-basin of the Amazon
The rivers, in which these dolphins live, usually flood the surrounding marshes and forests. This becomes an ideal situation for hunting, with their flexible necks and long snouts these dolphins extract their prey from hollow logs and other hiding places. These dolphins eat crustaceans, small turtles, catfish, shrimps, piranha, crabs and fishes.
The female dolphin gives birth to the calves after a gestation period of 9 to 12 months and usually in the months of July and September. At birth these dolphins are 32 inches long and weigh around 15 pounds. Two adult dolphins stick close to the calves, usually their parents.
There is a very interesting myth associated with these amazing dolphins. They say that at night these dolphins change themselves to beautiful humans and then seduce people by showing up at the parties and also give birth to illegitimate human babies (now that sound interesting!). This shape shifting quality of these dolphins is also called, “encantado”.
Both the dolphins, Chinese White Dolphins and Amazon River Dolphins are listed on the appendix II of the Convention on CMS (Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals) because its conservation status is unfavorable. The Bolivian President, Evo Morales introduced a law for the protection of these dolphins and declared it as a, “national treasure”, in September 2012.
Categorised in: Amazing Animals
This post was written by Editorial Staff