Bright Pink Dolphin Surfaces in La. Lake
Reports of a bright pink dolphin trolling the waters of a Louisiana lake and its surrounding Gulf of Mexico have circulated through media outlets across the world. (Image Courtesy of the UK Telegraph)
Bright Pink Dolphin Surfaces in La. Lake: The images of a bubblegum pink dolphin have created a media frenzy surrounding the seemingly mythical animal. After an initial sighting in 2007, the dolphin continues to resurface in a Louisiana lake, connected to the Gulf of Mexico.
LAKE CHARLES, La. -- The flash of bubblegum pink was unlike anything charter boat captain Eric Rue, 42, had ever seen: A dolphin, oblivious to its striking color, swimming alongside its pod in the Gulf of Mexico.
"It came to the surface, and I was just like, 'Oh my gosh,' " said Rue, of the Calcasicu Charter Service, a fishing and boating company on Lake Charles, La. "To realize that it is pink like that, it's just a really crazy sight."
Rue first spotted the unique Bottle Nosed Dolphin in June, 2007, as the UK Telegraph originally reported; since then, he has seen it around 40 to 50 times, he approximates.
The sight never seems to get old for Rue or his patrons, who actively seek out the attraction when at sea for the day.
"A lot of our customers are very interested in seeing it. Really, for most it is a once-in-a-lifetime type of viewing," Rue explained to ZT Pet News.
"It's really crazy, it is. It's very beautiful and it is hard to imagine but the thing is, a lot of animals that you see, there is some sort of discoloration. Not this one. It's pink all the way through."
Aside from its unique appearance, the wild animal does not seem any different from the other traditional gray Bottle Nosed Dolphins in its pod.
"Other than being pink, it looks very normal," Rue said. "It always kind of seems to hang with these few four other dolphins all the time. I think one might be its mother."
Though Rue accepts the pink dolphin as part of the scenery off the coast of southern Louisiana, a senior biologist at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society was surprised at its unique look -- and recurrent sightings.
"It is a stunning, bright pink color," the biologist, Regina Asmutis-Silvia, told ZT Pet News. "It's just beautiful."
Asmutis-Silvia studies wild whales and dolphins at the WDCS North America chapter, located in Plymouth, Mass. Though she has not seen the pink dolphin in person, she hypothesized that it is actually albino, and not pink, exactly; the recessive genetic trait, she says, doesn't impact the animal's ability to survive.
A partial, though not complete, loss of skin pigmentation could account for the dolphin's bright color.
"The biggest issue for the health of this animal would be that its color makes it easy to pick out by a predator," she said. "There could be a harassment issue."
Aside from potentially being singled out, the albino dolphin's skin tone leaves "no reason to be concerned about its health," Asmutis-Silvia says.
The pink dolphin is reminiscent of the Pink Amazon River Dolphin, which has a "pinkish color," according to Asmutis-Silvia. However, that species' pink coloring is randomly blotched across the body, not uniform throughout.
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The UK Telegraph contributed to this article.
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