Bolivia’s Pink River Dolphins
Pink river dolphins, locally known as ‘bufeos’, are one of the most threatened aquatic mammals on earth. Unlike marine dolphins which live in the ocean, the Bolivian river dolphin and its cousin, the Amazon river dolphin, live in freshwater. In order to survive in rivers, pink river dolphins have developed a more powerful sonar system to help them navigate the murky Amazon river waters and a more flexible spine to help them maneuver in between trees and other tight spaces.
Because the Bolivian pink river dolphin is confined to small regions of Bolivia, it is extremely vulnerable to local man-made and climate-related disruptions to its habitat. The most severe consequence of these disruptions is a dramatic drop in the water-level of rivers where the dolphins live. When the Amazon forest is cleared by farmers for agriculture, the resulting lack of tree roots to absorb rainfall, causes soil run-off which clogs rivers. This new agriculture (see below) also draws upon river water for crop irrigation, further reducing river levels. To make matters worse, the region now receives far less rainfall as a result of climate change. This year has seen one of the most severe droughts in Bolivian history - with La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, completely running out of water. All of this contributes to shallower river levels, causing more river dolphins to become stranded each year.
Dolphin Rescue Missions
Dr. Enzo Aliaga Rossel is a Bolivian Biologist who has been spearheading the research and conservation of pink river dolphins for the past twelve years. Dr. Rossel oversaw the miraculous rescue of 26 stranded river dolphins a few years ago - carrying each dolphin himself, one by one from the water to safety! The dolphins are often stranded in extremely remote areas - so specialized rescue crews must be urgently assembled to reach the dolphins in time. Dr. Rossel has proven that he is a hero up to the task. Yet, between equipment, supplies, personnel, and transportation, rescue missions of this kind can cost as much as $20,000. Please help us raise $2,500 to go towards these total cost!
How You Can Make A Difference
Dr. Rossel frequently receives reports of stranded dolphins - but simply does not have the funding to rescue them. Habitat modification and degradation combined with the effects of climate change are certain to generate more dolphin strandings this year in Bolivia (and elsewhere in South America). Unfortunately, Bolivia does not have laws to explicitly protect the bufeos, and it often does not even protect "national parks" set aside for them. So, it is up to passionate, efficient teams like Dr. Rossel's to rescue Bolivia's pink dolphins.
Dr. Rossel and his team desperately need your help to create an emergency rescue fund to save these dolphins before it’s too late.
ESR and its Partners
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More About Bolivian Pink River Dolphins
Pink River Dolphins can actually be gray, white, or bright pink. The pink color comes from the capillaries near the surface of their skin. They get pinker when they are more active, similar to how humans become flush during exercise.
The pink river dolphin is the largest freshwater dolphin in the world. It can reach up to 9 feet long and weigh as much as 400 pounds. Like marine dolphins, river dolphins are highly intelligent, extremely social creatures.
Help save the pink dolphins by supporting
Dr. Rossel's emergency rescue fund!