If asked to choose my top five species that I would like to see in the wild, the list would look like this: narwhal, snow leopard, mountain gorilla, resplendent quetzal, and the Amazon river (pink) dolphin.
I have to thank Sy Montgomery for introducing this last one to me in 2000. Before that, I didn’t know it existed. Since then I’ve been following its story.
Inia geoffrensis is one of only four river dolphin species found in the world. Unfortunately, they are on the IUCN Endangered list.
In recent years there have been some developments. In 2014, Brazil passed a moratorium prohibiting the use of dolphin’s blubber as bait to catch the local catfish. The moratorium expired in 2020 and the situation looked bleak. Fortunately, the moratorium was extended for an additional year beginning in July, which is the peak fishing season on the river.
Recognition and support to keep the dolphins alive as an attraction for ecotourism have gained some momentum. It is too soon to know if it will be enough.
To learn more about the interaction of this species and the local culture, pick up a copy of:
Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest
by Sy Montgomery
Published by Simon & Schuster, March, 2000
You may know Sy Montgomery from her award-winning bestseller, The Soul of an Octopus. If you’ve read this or any of her other books, you know that she immerses herself in the subject. This book is true to form.
What makes this topic so interesting is the combination of the pink dolphin’s almost human-like physiological features, its perilous habitat, and the other unusual species that live in the surroundings. Add in the mythology of the dolphin’s ability to entrance humans and lore them to an underwater city. Toss in a strong supporting cast of researchers and locals. It’s beginning to sound a lot like a James Cameron feature.
The book’s greatest flaw may be that some of the writing does tend to get a bit, shall we say, sentimental at times. From my perspective, it’s easily attributed to the mind-bending environment. She is simply speaking her truth.
One final thought: Local legend claims that this dolphin can transform itself into a man. Would that not imply that the dolphin’s story, its very history, is also a reflection of ourselves?
Why you should not miss this one:
- blends natural history, adventure travel, anthropology and conservation politics
- the species can be seen as an indicator for the future of the Amazon river and surroundings
Want to keep up to date on what is happening to the Amazon river dolphin? Check out the website for the Amazon River Dolphin Conservation Foundation at https://ardcf.org.
By the way, Sy Montgomery is a Board Member.