When people think of animals in the Amazon, most usually think of pythons, toucans, or parrots. Yet, fewer people know about the Amazon River dolphin. The Amazon River dolphin is a strange-looking dolphin that has an effective way of navigating the Amazon River. This dolphin is found in South America up to the basins of the Orinoco River as well as in the northern part of the Madeira River.
The Amazon River dolphin has a unique body that can grow up to two or three meters long. They usually weigh up to 140-160 kilograms. What makes these dolphins unique is their color-changing skin that varies with their age. At a young age, their skin color is usually gray. However, when they start to mature, they begin to turn pink. These dolphins' eyes are small, yet their eyesight is very bold. Their beak is very long and is designed to hunt prey. Other dolphins have uniform dorsal fins and fin sizes, but the Amazon River dolphins do not have one. Instead, they have a hump that grows larger as they age.
Unfortunately, the average lifespan of the Amazon River dolphin in the wild is only expected to reach up to 33 months. Surprisingly, records have indicated a much higher life expectancy of those living in captivity, and in some cases, these dolphins have lived between 10 to 33 years.
The Amazon River dolphin is a friendly creature and very social. They usually swim alone in muddy rivers. When they spot a large quantity of prey, they usually hunt in groups of 10 to 15. One way that this dolphin hunts their prey is by using echolocation, a method that utilizes sound waves to locate objects in the surrounding area. This type of communication is inaudible to humans. Researchers have concluded that certain sounds are linked to food. The Amazon River dolphin diet mostly consists of over 50 species of fish. They may also consume shellfish, crabs, crustaceans, and even small turtles.
This dolphin has few predators, but anacondas, jaguars, caimans, and other creatures hunt them. Even though this dolphin’s predators are dangerous, humans pose a bigger threat. Humans hunt down Amazon River dolphins for several purposes: their skin can be tanned into leather and their fat may be used for cooking.
Scientists also revealed that before mating, the males usually carry objects on their noses that may include branches, floating plant life, or clay balls. This dolphin usually mates from May, all the way through June. When they give birth, their babies are called calves. These calves are usually born between July and September, taking a month to grow in the womb. When they are first born, they are about 31 inches long. It takes around five years for a calf to grow up into an adult. When they become an adult, they reach a length of 1.7 meters. When they sleep, they have one eye open and the other closed. These creatures are languid, but they are mostly active in the morning.
The Amazon River dolphin is an amazing dolphin to learn, research, and study about. However, with the increasing impacts of climate change, these creatures may soon disappear. This could lead to further impacts on the Amazon ecosystem as the food chain is disrupted. These dolphins are only one of many species at risk for survival due to global climate change. If humans don’t act soon to mitigate climate change, it won’t be too long before many creatures such as the Amazon River dolphin cease to exist.
[Source: Animal Spot]