As if dolphins weren’t already cute enough, there’s a bubblegum pink one frolicking around the waters of Louisiana.
A Local Dolphin Celebrity
The pink bottlenose dolphin, affectionately dubbed “Pinky” by locals, has been making waves in the Calcasieu River area since she was first spotted there in 2007 by Captain Erik Rue. Rue, a charter boat captain with the Calcasieu Charter Service, has been keeping up with Pinky since she was a baby dolphin eight years ago, swimming mostly alongside her normally-colored dolphin mom.
Rue has been collecting pictures and noting the habits of the pink dolphin ever since the first time he saw her. Although he used to always see her swimming with her mother, Rue says now he often sees Pinky swimming on her own or with a posse of dolphin friends. He has encountered Pinky hundreds of times, and she “occasionally swims within five to ten feet of his boat.” Rue has even captured pictures of Pinky mating–that’s how he knows she’s a “she.”
When the passengers aboard his charter catch sight of Pinky and are understandably fascinated by her unusual hue, the captain is happy to slow down so they can catch a better glimpse and maybe snap their own photos. She’s a big hit on social media, of course–a pink dolphin is about as likable as it gets.
How Does A Pink Dolphin Get To Be Pink?
It turns out Pinky wasn’t exposed to toxic waste or spray-painted by local mischief makers; she’s likely just an albino. Albinism is the result of a genetic mutation that causes pigment cells to under-produce or fail to produce at all. Albino organisms lack melanin, which gives color to hair, skin, and eyes.
In Pinky’s case, the rosy coloring is probably due to the blood vessels showing through her pigment-free skin. Another sign that she is an albino are her reddish eyes, which Rue says don’t open all the way.
Albinism is often accompanied by health problems, especially problems with vision, because melanin plays a key role in healthy eyesight. It also functions as protection from the sun. Because of the potential complications associated with the condition, albino animals are rare in the wild.
Fortunately, apart from her coloring and maybe a squint, Pinky appears to be happy and healthy on all accounts. Rue says he has plans to compile his photos of the dolphin into a coffee table book; there’s one man who is sure to have smiling guests at every dinner party.