November 29, 2007

Pink Dolphin

From Louisiana, a Shockingly Pink Dolphin Surfaces

"It is absolutely, stunningly pink," said Rue, owner of Calcasieu Charter Service. "I have 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."

Albino dolphins are rare. Only three have been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico since 1994 and there have only been 14 sightings around the world since 1963.

But albino dolphins that appear to be pink are unheard of, says Patricia Rosel, a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marine biologist who studies the genetic glitches found in bottlenose dolphins.

The only pink dolphins known worldwide are the freshwater variety in the Amazon. The boto, as they are called, are the largest river dolphins on the planet. And while they are very pink, they also have gray splotches on their backs and fins.

Rosel said she’s hoping to catch sight of the pink calf, which has been spotted several times since Rue first discovered him.

Dolphin experts said they are certain the calf is an albino. But since most albino dolphins appear white, they say warm Gulf waters may offer an explanation for his unusual coloring.

"Dolphins are like us, when we get hot we get flushed," said Rosel, who works in Louisiana near the Gulf of Mexico. "Since he has no pigment, the capillaries stick out and make him appear pink."

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