Did you know that there are pink dolphins in Peru? It’s a little hard to believe, isn’t it? A pink dolphin sounds like something straight out of a fantastical dreamworld or an avant-garde piece of artwork. For most people, even seeing a regular dolphin is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; a pink one seems like something otherworldly. But there really are pink dolphins that live in the rainforest (in the Amazon River) in Northern Peru. They’re an incredible sight to behold, and you can even see them in person.
About Pink Dolphins in Peru
Like normal dolphins, the pink dolphin (formally known as the Amazon River Dolphin, or the inia geoffrensis) is born with a pale gray skin, which slowly turns to a pink hue over the course of the dolphin’s youth. They can measure up to 9 feet long and 400 pounds, and even live as long as thirty years.
Why are they pink? Some zoologists believe that these dolphins evolved to have pink skin as a biological defense mechanism, since the hue makes them harder to spot against the riverbed’s reddish mud. Others believe that the pink hue comes from blood vessels under the skin or exposed scar tissue.
In terms of what pink dolphins eat, they mainly prey on small river wildlife that can be found at the bottom of the river, such as crabs and catfish.
One of the most relatable fun facts about pink dolphins is that their pinkness intensifies when they are excited; in essence, they blush, just like humans.
In cultures native to the Peruvian Amazon, there is plenty of lore and mythology around the pink dolphin. One culture has a legend of the dolphins transforming into handsome gentlemen at night, who come and seduce the women of the village. It’s clear that most people that come into contact with these beautiful swimmers are captivated by them. Many cultures consider them sacred, believing that bad fortune will befall them if they bring harm to the rosy mammals.
Unfortunately, not everyone believes the animals should be kept safe. A study from the Piagacu Institute estimated that around 500 pink dolphins are killed and used for bait annually by fishing communities in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. While the pink dolphins have not yet been designated an endangered species, they are considered to be “vulnerable,” which should not be taken lightly — in China, a species of freshwater dolphins went extinct in 2007.
How to See the Pink River Dolphins
Since they are such a special creature, there are plenty of tourism companies that offer Amazon River tours centered around seeing the pink dolphins. Most of this tourism is found in Northern Peru, accessible from the city of Iquitos (a two-hour flight from Lima). From Iquitos, you can easily travel a couple hours deeper into the jungle, where the pink dolphins — along with countless other species of flora and fauna — reside.
The best location is the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, Peru’s largest nature reserve with an area larger than 20,000 square kilometers (about 8,000 square miles). In the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve offers everything you could ever want to see in the lush ecosystem.
But did you know that you could not just get a glimpse, but swim with pink dolphins? With many river boat cruises, tourists are invited to take a dip in the water, and the pink dolphins often come up to play with the humans, jumping through the river in their native habitat. It’s an incredible experience, and unlike anything else you’ve ever done. So book your flight to come see and swim with the pink dolphins in Peru!
If you are interested in a rain forest river cruise, or traveling to Iquitos to embark on a four-day stay in a jungle lodge in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, contact us below and one of our travel consultants will work with you on a customized itinerary: