Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads

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#SteveReviews: The Mystery of the Pink Dolphin

Anyone who has read Witness to Extinction by Samuel Turvey will be able to tell you how heartbreaking the extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin (or baiji) was despite the efforts put in place to prevent it. There are a handful of different river dolphin species around the world that have evolved independently of one another, the Yangtze was home to one of these as does the Ganges and the Amazon (to name a few). These species have all converged on the same idea, moving from the open ocean to rivers or estuarine environments which has left scientists scratching their heads for years.

The Mystery of the Pink Dolphin focusses on the Amazon river dolphin (or boto) which lives thousands of kilometres inland, deep within the Amazon rainforest. I expected the documentary to be sensationalist (based solely on the title) but it is quite an informative scientific piece – I was pleasantly surprised. The kinds of questions answered are how different are botos from other dolphins and investigates their origins through the use of both fossils and geology. It’s great to see such a multidisciplinary approach being taken to understand more about such an elusive species.

Despite the fact the film was released in 2015, the species was recently listed as Endangered by the IUCN (in 2018). Whilst there is a group of people dedicated to understand how the species survives in it’s environment, human-mediated changes and hunting are leading to population declines (which are briefly mentioned). Just like most species that are threatened with extinction, we are the driving force behind it. However unlike the Yangtze river dolphin, there is still time to act and save the species so despite the recent negative update, The Mystery of the Pink Dolphin gives me hope for the future of this species by highlighting the hard work and research that is being conducted in regards to this species. Be sure to check it out!

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