The Amazon River Dolphin is a freshwater dolphin native to the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in northern South America. It is the largest species of river dolphin. Adults can weigh as much as 400 pounds and grow to a length of about 8 feet. Also known as the Boto, the Amazon River Dolphin is largely pink or gray with small eyes and a bulbous forehead that ends in a long, tube-shaped beak. The beak has sensory hairs that allows the dolphin to sense food in the murky river depths. The Amazon River Dolphin lacks a dorsal fin, but rather has a low ridge along the back. This slow-moving dolphin swims through the river at a maximum speed of about nine miles per hour, though it can move faster in bursts. Its dives last no longer than two minutes. It can use sonar to navigate through murky waters such as flooded forest bottoms. The Amazon River Dolphin is known to be quite curious of people and are often reported rubbing up against divers and even trying to play “tag-like” games with them.
The Amazon River Dolphin eats of a variety of fish, crabs, and even turtles.
Habitat and Range
This marine mammal prefers the deeper parts of the river, particularly around sandbars and bends in the river. When the rivers flood, the Amazon River Dolphin is found in flooded forests, swimming in between the tree trunks. It occurs in the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in northern South America. It does not occur in salt water.
Females can breed after 6-10 years and give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 11 months. Calves stay with their mothers for up to two and a half years. Females only breed once every four or five years.
The Amazon River Dolphin is listed as a vulnerable species. Habitat destruction and fishing practices have led to its decline. Dams within the Amazon River have fragmented populations. Nevertheless, there are still healthy populations of Amazon River Dolphins remaining.