Unusual Pink Dolphin Spotted in Louisiana River

pink dolphin
Pinky, a pink dolphin, swims with its pod in Louisiana. Erik Rue/Calcasieu Charter Service

Pinky, an extremely rare albino dolphin, was spotted over long weekend in Calcasieu Lake, Louisiana. Erik Rue of the Calcasieu Charter Service has seen the animal several times this summer, most recently just a few days ago, as first reported by WGNO.

Rue first saw the dolphin in 2007, back when it was a baby. "I was coming in from offshore and it was really flat calm. I saw a pod of dolphins and something looked different on one of them. I shut down and waited. When they came back up to the surface, one was pink! It was stunning," Rue recalls in an interview with Newsweek.

Pinky is an albino bottlenose dolphin. When a dolphin is albino, it ends up being pink instead of white. Pinky's mother is a regular gray dolphin. "Very little is known about albino dolphins due to their extreme rarity," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a factcheck about Pinky.

"I've been able to see it quite often. Just about everybody around here that fishes and spends time in the river channel sees it during the summer time," Rue said. Rue has been extremely lucky to see the albino dolphin multiple times. NOAA only has record of two other such dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. One of these dolphins was spotted in 1994 near New Orleans and the second in 2003 near Galveston, Texas. The Galveston dolphin reappeared several times in 2004.

Rue has taken hundreds of pictures of Pinky over the years. Last summer, he witnessed Pinky mating. "It sounds crazy, like dolphin porn, but they just happened to flop around a bit so I had a crisp image of it," he said. But even though Pinky has been seen mating, that doesn't mean she's pregnant, contrary to other media reports.

Eight years after Rue first encountered Pinky, the dolphin has grown to between 6 and 7 feet long. Seeing Pinky is a popular request on his boat trips. "You can hear about a pink dolphin, but when you see it, you go, 'Wow. It is pink!' It is just beautiful."

Though Rue loves Pinky, he's not fond of all pink dolphins, such as those that live in the Amazon River. "I know they have the Amazon river dolphins but those are kinda ugly and splotchy. This one is just smooth pink, from tip to tail. Its very pretty. People love seeing it. Its an anomaly we are fortunate enough to have here."

As for how Pinky got her name, Rue isn't sure. "I think the Internet world named it Pinky. I don't know what else you're going to call it."