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A jumping Sotalia in the Orinoco

A jumping Sotalia in the Orinoco

Superordinate : Laurasiatheria
Order : Whales (cetacea)
Subordination : Toothed whales (Odontoceti)
Superfamily : Dolphin-like (Delphinoidea)
Family : Dolphins (Delphinidae)
Genre : Sotalia
Scientific name
JE Gray , 1866

Sotalia is a genus of dolphins that inhabit both the coasts and rivers of South America . Although part of it is freshwater inhabitant, it belongs to the real dolphins and not to the Amazon river dolphins .


A freshwater sotalia is about 150 cm tall; the sea-dwelling animals are up to 220 cm long. Apart from its size, the Sotalia is very similar to a bottlenose dolphin . It is dark gray on the top and whitish pink on the underside.

The ability of electrical reception has been proven for the Guyana dolphin .


Distribution area of ​​the Sotalias

The freshwater and marine Sotalias are considered to be of two different species:

The Guyana dolphin lives in shallow bays and river deltas and sometimes rises in the lower reaches of the rivers, for example in the Orinoco . In contrast, the Amazon Sotalia is a pure freshwater dolphin that can be found up to the upper Amazon on the edge of the Andes . He shares the distribution area with the Amazon dolphin . While this prefers the muddy tributaries, the Sotalia lives in the clear, wide streams. It is more active, faster and more happy to jump than the Amazon dolphin, but less curious.

Way of life

Completely different from the solitary Amazon dolphin, the Sotalia is a school-living animal that probably has a similarly complex social structure as other dolphins. Its diet consists almost entirely of fish.


Like the Amazon dolphin, the Sotalia also plays a role in the mythology of many indigenous peoples. So there is a belief that a drowned person becomes a dolphin. In this new life, the dolphin retains the ability to transform itself back into a human during occasional night walks. He always appears dressed in white and never takes off his straw hat, because with this he hides the breathing hole in the back of his head that would give him away as a dolphin. As a seductive young man and excellent dancer, he mingles with people and conquers women in order to get them pregnant. Before dawn he jumps back into the water and at that moment turns back into the dolphin.

Another name for the Sotalia is Tucuxi , a name derived from the Tupi language .

The last Sotalia in Europe was Paco , who died on December 30, 2009 at the age of around 40 in the Allwetterzoo Münster .


  • Matthias Sauerland: Auditory performance of the South American dolphin Sotalia fluviatilis. Klaus Schüling, 1996 ISBN 3930962349

Web links

Commons : Sotalia  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Nicole U. Czech-Damal et al .: Electroreception in the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis). In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B , online advance publication, July 2011, doi: 10.1098 / rspb.2011.1127
  2. Elder Dolphin Paco is dead