Pink Dolphins in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

by Captain Bill

Pink Dolphins in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Pink Dolphins with snouts above water

We had come a long way inside Pacaya Samiria National Reserve with an acoustical researcher, his team, and a cabin full of research gear to record the communication of Pink Dolphins.

Pink Dolphins in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

In an effort to get the best recording we came to the Pacaya River, the most remote entrance into the reserve. Our plan was to enter far enough into Pacaya Samiria National Reserve that there would be no motor or even paddling noise from fishermen or other tour operators.

Our goal was Yarina Cocha, on the far side of a difficult obstacle. The river is blocked with a plant plug of aquatic vegetation, backed up several kilometers, and packed in tight. This was our second adventure through the plant plug. We brought the same researchers through here last year. I was not too worried, just a little worried. The plant plug had matured in 13 months, the roots were more entwined.

Shirley studying the plant plug blocking the Pacaya River

I won’t bore you with the details but hours later, we came out the other side into open water and it felt great. Several pink dolphins sounded near the boat. We were happy. We were the little boat and the crew that could, chug, chug, chug.

We discovered the most wildlife that can be in one place in a ripe fruit tree absolutely full of a mixed flock of birds, bees, and monkeys, and although it was an hour till dark we tied up nearby to watch the action while my crew and I changed the motor on our excursion boat. I had used it to help push us through the plant plug. Not a good idea. Fortunately we carried a backup motor.

Blue-and-yellow Macaws

The next day we arrived at Yarina Cocha and were surrounded by pink dolphins, but the wind blew strong causing small waves to lap up against our boat, rain pattered on the lake, and we could not get good recordings until the wind and rain blew over.

While we were waiting for the weather to clear we sent out the excursion boat and had the good luck to watch a herd of around a dozen capibaras, including mothers with their young.

Our best pink dolphin recordings were made in the next couple of days. It is amazing listening in the head phones to sounds like pop corn popping interspersed with lots of other tones.

Pink Dolphins in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

We knew from previous cruises there was another pod of pink dolphins 55.5 kilometers away at the 3rd ranger station. In an effort to broaden the recorded data base, we set out the next morning.

Golden light, more pink dolphins

That stretch of rainforest from Yarina Cocha to the 3rd ranger station is some of the best wild life observation I have ever experienced. The squirrel monkeys, howlers, sloths, and hawks were so plentiful that after a few hours we hardly bothered to pay much attention to them.

We did pay close attention to rare Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkeys, Saki Monkey mothers carrying their babies, Black Capuchin monkeys, falcons, and what may have been a Harpy Eagle which we heard but barely caught a glimpse of.

Saki Monkey along the Pacaya River

The bird watching was brilliant, with sightings of a Greater Poto up close, several Rufescent Tiger Herons, flocks of Hoatzins, Golden-collared Toucanets, White-headed Marsh Tyrants, Black-capped Donacobius (the most I have ever seen), and my first Troupial. This is not the place to list all of the macaws, parrots, or over 50 other species, that we identified during those two days.

Black-capped Donacobius

We all agreed that section of the Pacaya River was one of the best stretches of river we have ever been on.

I was concerned about busting back through the plant plug, so we had to leave earlier than any of us wanted, but it proved to be a good plan as it took even longer to work our way back out.

After 10 days, our cruise totaled 989 kilometers, 307 k were inside the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve recording pink dolphin communication. We spent around 15 hours working our way through the plant plug.

That time was not entirely wasted as we saw and photographed a rainbow boa, a Fer-de-Lance, a Rosy-toed Tarantula, and several interesting species of frogs.

Our two Amazon cruises into Pacaya Samiria National Reserve to record Pink Dolphin communication were great opportunities for me, my crew, and Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, to prove we have what it takes to overcome obstacles and succeed with scientific field researchers that require a mobile platform to study the rivers and rainforest out of Iquitos Peru.

Pink Dolphin males are pinker

Pink Dolphins in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Bill Grimes, photographer

More interesting photographs from this expedition at Pink Dolphins, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Links to articles from our first expedition in 2007 to record Pink Dolphin communication;

Observations about Our Study of Pink River Dolphins in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

I am Just Another Travel Man

An Interview With David Bonnett, Acoustical Engineer Studying Pink Dolphin Communication

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