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Boto (Inia geoffrensis)

Young ladies and young men, beware! You are about to meet a sea creature who is seat to become a handsome man who seduces the young ladies, or a beautiful young woman who leads young men into the water. Those who come into its clutches are drowned and their spirits become dolphins. The natives believed strongly that this dolphin like creature is an omen of bad luck. They refused to burn its fat in their lamps for fear that looking at the light would cause them to go blind.

The Boto is the largest of all river dolphins. It can weigh up to 180 kg. This fresh water mammal makes its home in deep portions of rivers near sandbars and other natural formations that cause a pool of deep water to form. During the flood season, the Boto will move into the main stream to enjoy the deeper than normal river flow. This dolphin can be found throughout rivers and streams of the Amazon.

The Boto breathes through a spout located at the top of its head. It must surface one to two times every minute. The slow-moving mammal’s head can turn in every direction. This helps to make up for the loss of downward vision caused by cheeks that bulge beneath its small eyes. Its amazing flexibility allows it to swim around trees and brush through the forests that flood during the rainy season.

Over fifty fish are on the Boto’s list of most favorite foods. It wouldn’t be considered a picky eater! Its fishy diet changes with the seasons and the fish available during them.

The river cycle governs much of the lifestyles of its wildlife. Botos are no exception. Their mating season follows the patterns, and the birth of new baby dolphins comes early in the dry season. Females will bear one calf every four or five years. It will take more than one full year for the calf to fully develop into and adult Boto,

Hydroelectric developments are the Boto’s greatest threat in the wild. Dam’s cause major changes in the river flow, which in turn disturb the natural build of sandbars that Botos depend on for proper water depth. They also affect the natural fish reproduction cycles. The Boto depends on these fish for its food source. Although these elements cause problems for the river dolphins, they have a greater survival rate than many of their cousins.

Did you know?

Botos are very curious creatures. They enjoy grabbing boaters paddles and playing with swimmers.

Dynamiters found a creative way to save the lives of many Botos. A shipload of fish was slowly moved downriver (far enough away from the dynamite site to be safe). The dolphins followed the boat, and went unscathed when the blast occurred.

Further Information on the Boto

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