Believe it or not, this dolphin really is pink!
This rare and beautiful creature has become famous over the last few years while swimming around the waters of Lake Calcasieu in Louisiana.
No one is sure why the bottlenose dolphin – dubbed Pinky – prefers the lake, but the water there is salty enough to sustain her, so she’s stuck around, along with some friends.
Pinkie was first spotted in 2007 and made a huge splash when people first got a look at her. Her coloring is believed to be the result of albinism, although she’s got a much darker and richer pink color than other albino dolphins.
Albinism occurs when the cells that make melanin – the pigment responsible for skin, hair, and eye color – fail to produce it successfully. It’s caused by a genetic mutation. While Pinky’s parents likely looked normal, they would have each carried a (recessive) genetic mutation that was passed on to Pinky.
According to Erik Rue, the charter boat captain who first spotted her, she’s just a regular dolphin in every other way.
“[She’s] a perfectly normal dolphin and does all the things the rest of them do,” he says.
While Pinky should technically be more sensitive to the sun than other dolphins, sightings of her seem pretty common.
“Surprisingly, it does not appear to be drastically affected by the environment or sunlight as might be expected considering its condition, although it tends to remain below the surface a little more than the others in the pod,” said Rue.
And Pinky isn’t the only pink dolphin in the world. It turns out that there’s a species of river dolphin in South America and in Asia that is naturally pink – who knew?!
A while back, Pinky was spotted in the lake with a male dolphin and suspected to be pregnant. While some have seen her swimming with babies, it’s never been confirmed that they belong to her. Sadly, those didn’t appear to be pink.
However, a man named Thomas Adams posted a video to Facebook about 9 months ago showing Pinky with a pink dolphin calf. That means Pinky not only found a mate that also carried the gene for albinism (it would be recessive, so he wouldn’t have to be pink himself) but the calf managed to inherit the genes from both parents – it’s a statistically unlikely scenario overall.
KATC viewers voted on names for the baby over social media, and the overwhelming majority chose “Brain” in honor of the 90s cartoon “Pinky and the Brain.”
If you’d like to book a trip with Calcasieu Charter Service and see “Pinky” with your own eyes, click on their website, you can find their website here. But be mindful that Pinky needs her space and some conservationists have warned that making her a tourist attraction could be bad for her health.
As for Rue, he feels grateful for his opportunity to work in an area where he’s seen the animal hundreds of times now.
“I feel very fortunate to have seen this incredible mammal and lucky to be able to work and live in the area where such a fantastic creature frequents.”
If you want to watch Pinky from a safe distance, be sure to scroll down below to see some footage of her frolicking in the lake.
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