Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest

Sy Montgomery, Author
Sy Montgomery, Author Simon & Schuster $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-84558-6
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000
Release date: 03/01/2000
Hardcover - 436 pages - 978-0-7531-5608-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-7432-0026-4
Open Ebook - 253 pages - 978-1-60358-175-2
Paperback - 253 pages - 978-1-60358-060-1
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In a deeply felt, magical voyage to the tropics, Boston Globe nature columnist Montgomery (Spell of the Tiger) pursues the pink dolphin, a rare freshwater species, in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon. This elusive creature, with bulbous gray forehead, tiny eyes, chameleonlike color changes and pink back or fins, has inspired much local lore. Brazilian natives believe ""boto"" is a shape-shifter that makes love to humans, embodies spirits and carries people to the Encante, an enchanted underwater city. Combining a journalist's cool objectivity with a dolphin lover's almost mystical ecological consciousness, Montgomery luxuriates in the myths and legends as she swims with pink dolphins or tracks down radio-tagged boto in twisty, dangerous waterways, but she also ably reports the scientific facts. Boto mothers and offspring maintain a close bond, and though hard to spot in the wild, pink dolphins can be boldly playful and interactive with people. The Amazon, notes Montgomery, is polluted with cans, bottles, plastic bags and toxic wastes, yet the region is still an incredible incubator of biodiversity, and she describes her encounters with a veritable Noah's ark of exotic animals. She also mingles with field biologists, expatriates, conservationists, community leaders and a shaman (with whom she ceremonially imbibes ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic potion). Montgomery writes passionately about the destruction of rain forests, the ongoing extinction of Brazil's tribes and her visit to Mamiraura--Brazil's largest conservation experiment--where local residents act as guardians over a vast realm of manatees, dolphins, fish, turtles and timber. Her rhapsodic book winsomely blends travel, reportage, adventure and natural history. Illus. not seen by PW. (Mar.)
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