The Pink Dolphin: A Horse, Panther or Elephant of a Different Color?

Posted Jul 27, 2007 by M Dee Dubroff
Just when did pink dolphins first appear upon the scene? Are they different in any other ways from the well-known dull gray dolphin? Read on for some fascinating facts about a rare and endangered species.
Swimming happily in Hong Kong harbor, there are some one hundred Chinese White Dolphins upon whom Mother Nature has bestowed a “dye job.” White dolphins can be found from South Africa to Australia, but they are pink in only two parts of the world. Actually, rather than a separate or sub species of the Chinese White, these pink dolphins are thought to be an anomaly of nature.
In Hong Kong harbor they are very pink and even more so than their South American cousins. In Brazil, dolphins live in the Amazon River. They are born gray and turn pinker as they age. (Is that better than gray? Don’t ask me!) Unlike their Asian relatives, these dolphins are strictly fresh water creatures and the only dolphins in the world born with a set of molars for chewing food. The lives of these creatures in the estuary of the Pearl River aren’t easy; combating sewage, chemicals and overfishing in order to survive.
Scientists have several theories as to why these dolphins are pink. One contends that the color is the cumulative result of the consumption of crabs and shellfish, which have a red pigment to their muscle tissue. Over time, the pigment builds up in the skin, and the dolphin becomes pinker as it ages. It is also suggested that the reason the Brazilian dolphin has the unusual ability to flush a bright pink when excited has to do with its very high hemoglobin and red blood cell count.
Or perhaps, it’s just a matter of embarrassment.
Isn’t nature remarkable? And pink to boot!
What do YOU think?