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.
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.
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.
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