It’s a legend that boaters around Louisiana have been talking about for years, the magical pink dolphin known as Pinky. However, a recent spotting of the beautiful bottlenose dolphin confirms this unique beauty is completely real!
For most people, the first time that they see Pinky is truly a surreal experience. This unique dolphin, first spotted in 2007 as a young calf swimming with it’s mother, is truly pink in color. Captivating area locals, her coloring caused her to quickly rise to fame, attracting others to the area in the hope of a rare sighting. She’s even go her own Facebook page complete with photos and videos of what they claim to be the ‘rarest dolphin in the world.’
Most recently spotted by a boat cruise in the Calcasieu Ship Channel near Hackberry, witnesses claim that Pinky wasn’t swimming alone. She was seen swimming with a group of other dolphins, which have obviously accepted her despite her differences, along with another pink dolphin! This sighting, combined with the fact that reports from 2 years ago indicated that she had been seen mating in the channel, lead experts to believe the sink pink dolphin may be her baby.
“My husband was driving the boat and one jumped 20 feet from our boat,” described Bridget Boudreaux, lucky enough to have spotted Pinky first-hand. “We were just astonished. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough.”
Boudreaux isn’t the only one that is shocked by Pinky’s appearance, according to charter boat Captain Erik Rue. “I think many are a bit surprised when they actually see it and its actually bright pink like we’ve told them. They say, ‘Oh my gosh it’s really pink.’ They are surprised that it’s really just the way we described it to them,” he said. “It’s very stunning to look at. Everyone whips out their cell phones to try and capture a picture or video of it and of course we accommodate.” In fact, Rue says that Pinky will sometimes venture within 5-10 feet of the boat, giving his clients an amazing view of her unique beauty.
The dolphin attracted the attention of Greg Barsh, a scientist at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Alabama where he studies the genetics of color variation. He explained that Pinky carries well-known traits of albinism. Albinism is best-known for the lack of pigmentation in the skin usually leading to an unusually pale or white appearance, so where does her pink coloring come from? What you are actually seeing, Barsh states, is the blood vessels showing through from beneath her pale skin.
The fact that Pinky has been swimming these waters for over 10 years now is surprising to most scientists, as animals with albinism often suffer from health problems that prevent them from surviving in the wild. Yet photos and videos reveal that Pinkie is still alive and, it appears, doing well in her Louisiana home. Just how rare is her unique pink appearance? Since 1962 there have only been 14 recorded sightings of albino bottle-nose dolphins!
“Seeing an animal that is extremely light in color is not something we would normally expect to see,” stated Senior Rescue Biologist Kerry Sanchez from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “In my full time here, we’ve never seen an animal that looks like that.”