Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amazon River Dolphins

We include the following because it features superb photographs of Pink Dolphins made by an excellent wildlife photographer. The press release however, is breathy and riddled with the typical inaccuracies that always seem to accompany any news from the Amazon. The place where these dolphins frolic is on the Rio Negro and GreenTracks has made several trips there so that everyone can enjoy swimming and playing with these tame animals. They are free swimming but have long been accustomed to interacting with people. And nobody wears more than a simple bathing suit, unlike the protective suits discussed in the news release. Fun place! We can put together custom trips out of Manaus, Brazil, that could include swimming with these dolphins along with other rainforest activities.

From the Daily Mail, April 22, 2010

These never-before-seen pictures of bubblegum pink Amazon river dolphins are a fascinating glimpse into the behaviour of these elusive creatures. Unlike their playful cousin, 'Flipper', these dolphins live in the murky, sediment covered depths of the giant Amazon river 50 miles south of the city of Manaus and are in fact freshwater creatures.

Captured on film over a total of three weeks by Seattle based photographer Kevin Shafer, the dolphins distinctive pink colouring develops with age and is exaggerated by the red silty Amazonian water. Swimming with up to six of the nearly blind, seven foot long pink dolphins, Kevin braved the parasitic, piranha-infested waters of the world's largest river in search of that perfect shot.
Deciding to travel himself to photograph the dolphins, Kevin found a fishing village where the dolphins congregate because they feed off fishing scraps of the villagers.

Advised to wear a full body wet suit to prevent infection by the rivers parasites or even attack by the notorious piranha, Kevin decided to ignore the advice after a day or two. 'I wanted freedom of movement within the water to take my pictures and the suit was quite restrictive,' said Kevin. 'I was able to enjoy the experience more without the suit. The water is so dense with silt that has flowed down from the Andes that they evolved to not use their eyes. This also cause them to develop their distinctive pink skin, which begins as quite greyish when they are young, but develops over the years to the stark bubblegum pink colour that you can see.'

Pink River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis), known in Brazil as Botos and in Peru as Bufeos, are members of a primitive family of toothed whales with only five species worldwide. They are nearly blind, possess sophisticated echo-location capabilities, and have flexible necks. This species is found in the Orinoco and Amazon river systems. Up to 8 feet in length, Bufeos feed primarily upon
fishes. Little is known about their population status but they are commonly seen by humans and sightings are frequent in the upper Amazon of Peru, especially around the mouths of tributaries. They are equally abundant in silty rivers as well as clear blackwaters.



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