Cetacean Society International

Working for whales, dolphins and porpoises worldwide

CSI Photo Gallery

Boto, South American River Dolphin

(Inia geoffrensis)

The Boto, Inia geoffrensis, is a unique aquatic mammal inhabiting the Amazon and Orinoco River Basins in South America. Botos are very difficult to see as they live in muddy waters and, because of their physical characteristics, do not often jump out of the water like this. These pictures are very special because most people only see a pinkish brown body and dorsal fin.
(Photo courtesy Fundación Omacha, Colombia)


In the Orinoco River, Botos usually form groups of 15 - 20 animals, especially during low water season. They like to follow slow outboard engined boats along the river, like this. During the flood season Botos swim among trees far from the river, searching for fish. They need excellent echolocation to find food in muddy waters. Botos often swim upside down, perhaps to make their hunting senses more effective.
(Photo courtesy Fundación Omacha, Colombia)


Botos are also called Amazon River dolphins. They have different color patterns, varying from bright pink to deep grey, depending upon their age and the geographical area where they are found. In the Amazon River they are usually pinker but less conspicuous, while in the Orinoco River they are more grey and active at surface. In the Arauca River in Colombia (a tributary of the Orinoco River) dolphins are very pink (see picture) and very active at the surface.
(Photo courtesy Fundación Omacha, Colombia)


As a consequence of the Omacha Foundation Research Program in Columbia's Amazon region, many indigenous communities now see the Botos as ecologically important, but Botos have always had cultural significance to them. In the Caquetá River children now feed wild dolphins from a fishing platform (see picture).
(Photo courtesy Fundación Omacha, Colombia)