The dolphin, imaginatively named Pinkie, first appeared in Louisiana’s Calcasieu River eight years ago.
Pinkie disappeared for a time but was spotted again around two weeks ago. Charter boat captain Erik Rue has taken a series of pictures of Pinkie mating and found that she is a female dolphin, writes Ted Ranosa for Tech Times.
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Pinkie the dolphin becomes a tourist attraction in Louisiana
“I believe I’m first one who saw her and I know I’m the first one to take pictures of her,” Rue said. “I’ve learned a lot since I’ve spend a lot of time following her around.”
Rue says he first spotted Pinkie in 2007 while working for the Calcasieu Charter Service. He was piloting a boat with 4 passengers when he saw Pinkie for the first time, and she has since become a local celebrity.
Tourists regularly take trips on Rue’s charter aiming to spot Pinkie in Lake Charles. Rue says that many are surprised to find that Pinkie is in fact pink, and many are eager to snap a photo of the rare mammal.
Rue says that that Pinkie has a curious nature and sometimes comes to within 5-10 feet of the boat. After observing the dolphin’s mating behavior, Rue concluded that Pinkie was a female, but he does not yet have an explanation for its strange pink coloring.
Rare coloring may be the result of albinism
Researcher Greg Barsh, of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Alabama believes Pinkie may well be an albino. The fact that the animal’s eyes have a reddish tinge, and its blood vessels can be seen through its pale skin, would appear to provide evidence for this theory.
The skin of albino animals contains no pigment because the melanin-making cells do not produce enough pigment, or none at all in some cases. Scientists think albinism occurs due to a mutation in one of a number of genes.
Pinkie could have been born an albino from two regular bottlenose dolphin parents who both carried a copy of the albinism mutation. As two sets of mutated genes combined, they resulted in Pinkie’s distinctive hue.