Pink River Dolphins on the Marañon; A Wildlife Encounter
Photo credit: Pink river dolphin © Dave Foreman
By Brian Miller
Years ago I was in the Pacaya-Samiria in Peru. It is just west of where the Marañon and Ucayali Rivers meet to form the Amazon River. There are 8,000 square miles of Reserve, which is an important part of the seasonally flooded forest. There is no road to the reserve.
We had lunch at a ranger station, and then it was time for the siesta. I asked if I could borrow one of the dug-out canoes instead of sleeping. I began to paddle up a feeder river that flowed into the Marañon. The feeder river was about 300 yards wide. I was quickly joined by three pink river dolphins. Two would breach together, and the other breached solo. They followed me as I paddled upstream for about 30 minutes always breaching within five yards of the canoe. After 30 minutes, I had to turn around and head back to the station, and I thought I would lose the dolphins, but they turned around and followed me all the way back to the station. They probably do this all the time, but it was a unique experience for me. I sure won’t forget it. Seeing the dolphins so close at hand, along with the normal sounds of the selva, was wonderful. There is a strong belief that killing a dolphin will bring doom to your house, so the dolphins are unafraid of people.
Brian J. Miller received a PhD from the University of Wyoming in behavioral ecology and conservation of black-footed ferrets and was then awarded a Smithsonian Institution Fellowship at their Conservation and Research Center. Brian worked with the conservation of the endangered black-footed ferret for a decade, then lived in Mexico for five years beginning an ongoing research project on jaguars and pumas in the dry tropical forest of Jalisco, Mexico.
After seven years as a Coordinator of Conservation and Research at the Denver Zoological Foundation, Brian accepted a position to develop conservation and education programs at the Wind River Foundation. His main research interest concerns the role of highly interactive species (keystones) in regulating ecosystem processes, and how to improve protection for those species when designing reserves.
He has published 100 scientific articles, seven books, and has been on the board of five conservation organizations. He has helped start two protected areas, one of which is Rio Mora NWR. In 2009 he was given the Denver Zoo’s Annual Conservation Award. Brian is a member of the Rewilding Leadership Council.