Most of us picture graceful, friendly grey-and-white mammals when we hear the word "dolphin." You might have even heard of people swimming with dolphins (though putting dolphins in captivity for our entertainment isn't exactly ethical). However, a fisherman in Louisiana got a beautiful surprise one day when he encountered a pink dolphin.
Keep reading for the full story of this lucky fisherman who happened upon a pod of dolphins, CBS News reports.
What happened in the pink dolphin sighting?
As if seeing dolphins in the wild wouldn't be thrilling enough, Thurman Gustin got the privilege of spotting a couple of pink dolphins in a river in Cameron Parish, La. in July 2023, as reported by CBS News.
Gustin said he has fished in that body of water for 20 years, and had never before seen a pink dolphin swimming there. Luckily, he managed to quickly capture one of the pink dolphins on video.
Gustin said in an interview with CBS News: "As we were going I noticed something just under the water that I knew wasn't normal. I [stopped] the boat and up popped this beautiful pink dolphin."
He said that there were two pink dolphins of different sizes, and that his girlfriend noticed the size difference as well.
Check out the pink dolphin video.
Are pink dolphins real?
Anytime an animal appears that seems to be quite out of the ordinary, it can prompt incredulity. Pink dolphins have an almost mythical quality that makes one wonder if they actually exist. Well, lovers of sea life can rejoice: the pink dolphin is a real creature that exists in nature.
As the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) explains, there is a species called the Amazon river dolphin, but it also goes by the name "pink river dolphin" or "boto." Pink river dolphins can be found in large portions of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins, and they only live in freshwater. They've been found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela.
However, the pink dolphin sighting in Louisiana is thought to be a different variety of dolphin. CBS News reported that the pink dolphins Gustin saw were probably bottlenose dolphins, though those are typically grey or black. Scientists believe that occasionally these dolphins can be pink due to albinism.
Per the Blue World Institute, bottlenose dolphins without pigment can appear light pink or white, and there have only been about 20 reported sightings of pink bottlenose dolphins since the mid-1900s. One pink dolphin is nicknamed "Pinky" and was first sighted in 2007 in the same river area where Gustin saw the two pink dolphins in July. Some speculate that these two dolphins may be descendants or relatives of Pinky.
Given how rare these pink dolphin sightings are, it's no wonder Gustin said the experience ranked among the highest of all his wildlife encounters. He said he had once seen a bobcat swimming across a Texas bayou, and told CBS News, "That was cool ... but nothing like this."