Pink dolphin spotted in Louisiana waters

BY SARI AMIEL

RRUIZ3960 VIA FLICKR.COM

RRUIZ3960 VIA FLICKR.COM

When someone spots wildlife in a local lake an image of fish or seabirds might come to mind, but not many people would envision the sighting of a cotton candy-colored dolphin.

Nevertheless, this past weekend observers reported seeing a pink bottlenose dolphin in Calcasieu Lake, Louisiana. The dolphin, which has been nicknamed “Pinky,” has lived in the lake since 2007. It was first spotted by Erik Rue, who works for the local Calcasieu Charter Service.

“I’ve been able to see it quite often. Just about everybody around here that fishes and spends time in the river channel sees it during the summer time,” Rue told Newsweek.

Biologists working for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officially reported seeing this pink dolphin on three separate occasions in 2007.

The pink dolphin, which is now a little over six feet long, is an albino. In many other species, albino individuals are white-colored because their bodies do not contain melanin pigments. Albino organisms often have red-tinted eyes and poor vision.

In contrast, albino bottlenose dolphins can be pink in color. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), bottlenose dolphins, including Pinky’s mother, are typically gray in color. Albinism is typically a recessive gene, so Pinky likely received one recessive allele, or form of this gene, from each of her parents.

The NOAA reports that white-colored albino bottlenose dolphins have been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico area on two separate occasions. The first one, which took place in 1994, was in Louisiana’s Little Lake. The second spotting of an albino dolphin occurred in the Gulf in 2003.

Since 1962, only 14 albino bottlenose dolphins have been officially sighted by the public. Albino organisms of other species of dolphin, porpoise and whale have also been sighted. Sightings of albino marine organisms has been rare overall.

Rue, who has seen the pink dolphin around 50 times since 2007, expressed his wonder at the animal’s unusual appearance.

“The dolphin appears to be healthy and normal other than its coloration, which is quite beautiful and stunningly pink,” Rue told The Guardian.

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