Amazon River Dolphin

The Amazon River Dolphin, alternately Boto, Boutu, Nay, or Pink River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) is a freshwater river dolphin endemic to the Amazon River and Orinoco River systems. The largest of the river dolphins, this species is not to be confused with the Tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis), whose range overlaps that of the Amazon River Dolphin but is not a true river dolphin.

The IUCN lists various other names to describe this species including Amazon Dolphin, Boto Vermelho, Boto Cor-de-Rosa, Bouto, Bufeo, Dauphin de l'Amazone, Inia, Pink Dolphin, Wee Quacker, Pink Freshwater Dolphin, Pink Porpoise, and Tonina.


The first type specimen was described by Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville in 1817.

1998 classification lists a single species, I. geoffrensis, in the genus Inia, with three recognised subspecies:

  • I.g. geoffrensis - Amazon basin population (excluding Madeira river drainage area, above the Teotonio Rapids in Bolivia)
  • I.g. boliviensis - Amazon basin population in the Madeira drainage area
  • I.g. humboldtiana - Orinoco basin population

Some older classifications listed the boliviensis population as a separate species.


In a traditional Amazon River myth, at night an Amazon River Dolphin becomes a handsome young man who seduces girls, impregnates them, then returns to the river in the morning to become an Amazon River Dolphin again. This dolphin shapeshifter is called an encantado. It has been suggested that the myth arose partly because dolphin genitalia bear a resemblance to that of humans. In the local area, there are also tales that it is bad luck to kill an Amazon River Dolphin. Legend also states that if a person makes eye contact with an Amazon River Dolphin, that person will have nightmares for the rest of his or her life.

The 1987 Brazilian film is a supernatural romance featuring an Amazon River Dolphin who has a son by a young woman.

Food and diet

The Amazon River Dolphin has 25-30 peg-like front teeth for catching prey and it mainly eats crustaceans, crabs, turtles, and catfish and also they eat bits of human flesh so beware if ever swimming with them.


General references

  • Database entry includes a lengthy justification of why this species is vulnerable.
  • Rice, Dale W. (1998). Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution. Society of Marine Mammalogy Special Publication Number 4. 231 pp.
  • Montgomery, Sy (2000). Journey of the pink dolphins : an Amazon quest. Simon & Schuster, 317 pages. 068484558X
  • Juliet Clutton-Brock (2000). Mammals, 381 pages.
  • Hilda Pink Dolphin. Retrieved on 2007-09-08..

External links

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