Viewing Dolphins During an Amazon Cruise Tour
| Wildlife & Flora
Viewing Amazon River Dolphins during your Amazon Cruise is one of the most rewarding moments of the entire tour. These majestic creatures have stirred our imagination for centuries, and even have a special place amongst myth and legends of local populations.
In many parts of Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia healthy populations of dolphins can be found, but they are not completely free from danger. As populations increase, and human demand for fish increases competition for resources, Amazon River Dolphins numbers have been declining. Learn more about these beautiful creatures in this piece:
Anatomy of an Amazon River Dolphin:
The Amazon River dolphin averages about 6.5 feet in length. They come in all shades of pink, from a dull gray-pink, to rosy colored pink, to a bright pink like that of the flamingo. This color variation is due to the clarity of the water in which the dolphin lives: the darker the water, the pinker the dolphin will be. The sun's rays cause the dolphins to lose their pink pigmentation. Murky water helps to protect the dolphin's bright hue. These animals are also known to flush to a bright pink when excited.
There are several anatomical differences between the Amazon River dolphin and other types of dolphins. For one, Amazon River dolphins are able to turn their necks from side to side while most species of dolphin cannot. This trait coupled with their ability to paddle forward with one flipper, while paddling backward with the other helps them maneuver when the river floods. These dolphins will actually swim up over the flooded land and their flexibility helps them to navigate around trees.
Additional characteristics that set these dolphins apart from other species are molar-like teeth that allow them to chew their prey and bristle-like hairs at the ends of their snouts that help them search for food on the muddy river bottoms.
Habitat of River Dolphins:
The Amazon River dolphin can be found in the Amazon River system as well as the Orinoco River system. These river systems flow throughout South America, specifically in the countries of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana and Peru.
What Do Amazon River Dolphins Eat?:
Amazon River dolphins feast on over 50 types of fish, as well as crustaceans found on the river bottom ... and the occasional turtle.
Threats They Face:
Human activity is the main threat to the Amazon River dolphin. Although these dolphins have long been respected and unharmed because of the local belief that they have magical powers, these beliefs are changing. Some humans see them as competition and kill them so they will not have to share the river’s fish. The dolphins often become tangled in the nets of fishermen and die.
Additionally, the building of hydroelectric dams in South American rivers, pollution, the loss of habitat and decrease in food sources, all threaten this unique species of dolphin.