Amazon basin, July 2022
As we glided along the Amazon river outside the city of Puerto Nariño, we were so low in the water that we could touch the river.
First one dolphin, then another swam over, turning, splashing and belly flopping beside us. We were at eye level, staring at the slender pink bellied “tucuxi”, the river dolphin.
The dolphins moved around in small groups of four to six individuals, with the calves mixed in with the mothers and the other adults. They spy hopped in a way I have seen before with some orcas, bobbing their head two or three times, watching us in the boat before going under. Some of them jumped and performed a half twist tuning their bodies before landing.
The tucuxi (Sotalia fluviatilis), alternatively known as dolphin gris o bufeo negro, is a species of freshwater dolphin found in the waters of the Amazon basin.
Despite being found in geographic locations similar to those of the 'real' river dolphins such as the Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) the tucuxi is not closely related to them genetically. Instead, it is classed in the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae).
The tucuxi lives along much of the length of the Amazon River and many of its tributaries, and is found in Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, southeastern Colombia.