A unique bottlenose dolphin calf has been viewed at Louisiana shores in the Gulf of Mexico. According to experts, this albino is probably one-of-a-kind and charter boats and locals have been prowling the waters in the hope of getting a glimpse of the dolphin calf.
This dolphin, which is ‘shockingly’ pink in colour,was first viewed by Erik Rue, a charter boat captain who operates near Lake Charles, Louisiana, on June 17. The pink hue of the dolphin is even more emphasized when photographed alongside his gunmetal-gray mother and her pod.
Rue, who owns Calcasieu Charter Service, said in an interview to ESPN: ‘I just happened to see a little pod of dolphins, and I noticed one that was a little lighter. It was absolutely, stunningly pink. I had never seen anything like it. It’s the same color throughout the whole body. It looks like it just came out of a paint booth.’ Rue cut his engines and waited for the pod of dolphins to resurface. The small pink face of the dolphin was viewed again, much to the delight of the captain and guests.
Albino dolphins, such as the one viewed at the Louisiana shores, are extremely rare. Since 1963, only 14 such dolphins have been viewed, with only three being spotted in the Gulf of Mexico since 1994. However, according to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marine biologist Patricia Rosel (currently studying genetic glitches found in bottlenose dolphins), pink albino dolphins are unheard of. Since the first sighting of this dolphin calf by Rue, it has been spotted several times, and Rosel said she is also hoping to catch a glimpse of the calf.
Freshwater pink dolphins in the Amazon are the only dolphins of pink colour that are known worldwide. They are called the ‘boto’ and are the largest river dolphins on Earth. While these dolphins are very pink, gray splotches on their backs and fins are also present. According to dolphin experts, this calf is certainly an albino. While most albino dolphins are white, the warm Gulf waters may be a reason for the pink colour of the viewed calf.
According to Rosel, who also works in Louisiana near the Gulf of Mexico, said,
Dolphins are like us, when we get hot we get flushed. Since he has no pigment, the capillaries stick out and make him appear pink.
Albino dolphins are an easy catch for predators since they ‘stick out like sore thumbs’. Rosel says that this might be the reason for the extreme rarity of these dolphins. Not much is known about the health of these dolphins either. Rosel states,
Basically, what we know about albino dolphins we infer from human albinos. They tend to have eyesight problems, sensitivity to sunlight. But there are large adult albino dolphins, so there’s certainly a precedent for him to grow up.
Rosel has expressed her worries that the pink dolphin calf might be harmed by people hoping to see it. According to expert recommendations, one should slow down and stay at least 100 yards away when observing exotic marine life. Feeding, harassing or injuring a marine animal is against the law. According to her,
He’s definitely still a calf swimming with his mom and we don’t want them to get separated by a boat or hurt by a propeller.
However, it is still not certain whether this beautiful and rare pink dolphin would move away with his pod or stay in the waters of Louisiana. Rosel explained that while some bottlenose dolphins tend to stick to one area, the others are broad-ranging. She also expressed hope that this pink calf remained in the shores of Louisiana so that it could be viewed by all.