Encantado of the Amazon

Boto in a floodplain, (c) Kevin Schafer, National Geographic June 2009

National Geographic seems to have aquatic wildlife on the brain. Last month they reported on leatherback sea turtles and this month they’ve published a story by Mark Jenkins (with b-e-a-utiful photos from Kevin Schafer) of the boto, the Amazonian river dolphin.

The story is full of boto biology snippets that I’ve never previously heard. Many schoolchildren (and marine educators) will relate to you that the Amazon river dolphins resemble the bright pink of cotton candy. However, that’s true for just a percentage of males and, as Jenkin’s writes, researchers from the University of Kent in England believe that most of the bright pink coloration derives from scar tissue. Like many other cetacean species boto can be aggressive with one another and the scars are longterm vestiges of this type of socialization and communication. Females, as it turns out, are mostly gray.

Read on the June issue for more on the boto, as well as concerns for its future survival due to hunting and entanglement.

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