Beneath thatched roofs
far from soft white sands
of Ipanema and Ilhabela
Amazon dwellers witness
a pink dolphin dancing sprightly
upon the water’s surface,
his slippery tongue cackling
through his jagged-tooth beak.

Poachers look to the ground
in fear that direct eye-to-eye
contact might produce
ever-lasting nightmares...

Nightmares for those who hunt
the Boto's flesh for perfume…
for precious oils… for catfish bait…
for a miraculous Aphrodisiac.

Packed with loggers, gold diggers,
greedy hunters and hunted prey,
the vast Amazon brush... vanishing…
hides the very last mystery...

It is the legend of the pink dolphin
who leaps out of Amazon waters—
those piranha-infested waters—
onto the human-congested shore…

With a smirk of Homo Erectus,
his amphibious flippers—
perfect for treading water—
unexpectedly transmute
into human ankles…

The Boto now struts in pride,
his huge toes sink into the cool ooze
of the riverbank.

With a floppy straw hat
set low upon his melon head,
his silken shirt covers
his broad chest and pulsing blowhole.

An alien among humans,
his once mottled flesh
is now flushed with rosé wine.

In dancing he learns to alter
his rhythm ever-so -gracefully
to waves of music palpitating
from Samba to Bossa Nova
to Lambada.

His hypnotic ululations
and sinuous spine flexing
soon cast the ultimate spell
as he allures his quarry
with kisses before drawing
her deep into underwater chasms
of the enchanted realm
with the charms of his Limbo dance.

It is the legend of the pink dolphin
who leaps out of Amazon waters—
those piranha-infested waters—
onto the human-congested shore…

Some nine months later—
the mystery is now incarnate—
the arms of a human child—
the blowhole of a Boto.

Downing cup after cup
of straight sugar cane pinga,
she wants to drown herself
in waters of Lethe
and banish that
passionate Boto night
totally from her spirit.

Fishermen reconfirm her tale.

Her half-human newborn
fades from life
in just a few instants
not at all knowing
whether he was
a creature who belonged
purely to the realm
of water or of air....

Such is the legend of the pink dolphin
who leaps out of Amazon waters—
those piranha-infested waters—
onto the human-congested shore…


The "Boto Cor-de rosa" is the name of the pink river dolphin of the Brazilian Amazon. In addition to the impact of poaching, the pink river dolphin is endangered because of the increase of Amazon pollution, dam construction, river projects, and boat traffic that alter its habitat and can result in accidental death.

According to legend, the Boto can transform itself into a man who is said to seduce women at night—before disappearing back into Amazon waters at dawn. But even if the Boto legend may have brought some public attention to the plight of the Amazon dolphin, that legend will not, by itself, save the species from extinction.

And by mystifying rape, the Boto legend appears even more sinister once it is realized that Brazil is among the most dangerous countries on the planet for women. In 2018, there were more than 66,000 cases of sexual violence—180 rapes per day. Among the victims, 54% were less than 13 years old.

On a global scale, according to a recent UNICEF report on children and gender equality, 1 in 20 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 – around 13 million – have experienced forced sex. In times of both peace and conflict, adolescent girls face the highest risk of gender-based violence. In general, gender norms and discrimination heighten their risk of unwanted pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, and malnutrition. The Boto legend is a grim and global reality.

And the fate of the pink dolphin itself is linked to the fate of the Amazon—the world’s largest rainforest—the lungs of the planet—which is being eaten alive by rapacious logging, mining, and agribusiness interests that are encroaching upon indigenous people’s lands in actions that appear to be encouraged by the government of Brazil’s newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro.

So, among many other countries in the world, Brazil is burning in more ways than one. It appears that the Bolsonaro government could care less for the rights of women, minorities, and indigenous peoples. Nor does the Bolsonaro government appear to care for the pink river dolphin, nor for the protection of many other endangered species. Nor does that government appear to care for the life-creating and life-saving infusion of Amazonian oxygen into the global environment.

The Amazon, Brazilian society, and the world will all suffer greatly from such greedy short-sighted policies—when Brazil, with its tremendous resources, could instead take the lead in developing an alternative long term, sustainable, and ecological strategy of development—an alternative strategy that could become a model for both so-called “developed” and “developing” countries to follow.