The Pink Dolphins of the Amazon Part 1

Helen Pugh
4 min readNov 4, 2021


A strong legend persists deep in the Cuyabeno jungle in Ecuador, where the Aguarico River flows through Ecuador before it joins the Amazon and snakes its way through Peru and Brazil. So strong, in fact, is this legend, that it has permeated the sector of documentation and records. Myth, legend and reality have entwined themselves in the history of the strange aquatic creatures of that river and the people who live in the nearby communities.

They say there’s a reason why the river dolphins inhabiting that part of the river are pink in colour. The reason is that the first ever river dolphin was not born a dolphin.

The story begins with a young man, a strong and successful young warrior, who was loved by all his community because he kept it safe from wild animals and raids from other communities. He was a skilled hunter and often brought back immense hunks of meat for his parents and siblings. Many were the times in which they couldn’t manage to eat all that he brought home- their bellies were fit to burst, and so the food was shared amongst many throughout the community.

But this young man did have one enemy and it was an enemy he did not care to have. A spirit-god looked down from on high and envied the man his arrogant strength and skilfulness. A rage set deeply in the spirit-god’s heart, poisoning every second of his existence. He decided that he would seek vengeance upon that mere mortal who thought himself to be invincible.

The spirit-god waited until the man was alone. It took a few days for this to happen, for the warrior’s popularity meant that he was always surrounded by other men who wished to learn from him and women who fought over who he would choose as his wife. But at last the day arrived when, watched closely by the spirit-god, he decided to go down to the river by himself to relax and bathe. That was when the spirit-god chose to act out his revenge.

As soon as the warrior dipped the tip of his toe into the water, he started to feel strange and tingly all over.

Moaning, he collapsed to the ground and began to writhe and thrash around. In a panic, his eyes dashed about him and finally he caught a glimpse of his legs: they were melding together as if they were covered in sticky tree…