The bufeo colorado, pink dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), is considered a powerful shaman, which casts spells when it surfaces, perhaps because its blowhole makes blowing and whistling sounds similar to those made by a shaman. Much dolphin behavior supports belief in their intelligence. They are curious, and they will swim near boats and approach swimmers in the water. They will chase a school of fish, allowing fishermen to go upstream and set their nets; the dolphins will then remain on the outside of the nets, easily capturing any fish that escape — a curiously symbiotic relation between humans and dolphins.
Mestizos firmly believe that dolphins seek sexual intercourse with human beings. A menstruating women in a boat is in particular danger; a dolphin will ram her boat and overturn it, dragging her to the river bottom for sexual intercourse, where the woman may drown. Dolphins also turn into human form in order to seduce women and to make children that will later serve them. They appear primarily as fair handsome men dressed in dapper white linen suits and Italian fedoras, who attend parties, buying drinks for everyone, and stealing or seducing women amid the noise, confusion, and dancing. An infatuated woman may disappear, having thrown herself into the river out of her desire to stay forever with her dolphin lover. Thus, too, if a young woman is impregnated and the father is unknown, the pregnancy is often blamed on a nocturnal liaison with a dolphin, who presumably lured the maiden into the water.
But, just as chullachaquis cannot hide their deformed foot, dolphins cannot disguise their blowhole, and always appear wearing a hat; and they will not drink, since being drunk may break the spell and reveal their true identity. Such an interloper may be frightened away by removing his hat and revealing that he is really a dolphin.
In line with the attributed sexuality of the dolphin is the belief that female dolphin genitals are the same as — indeed, more desirable than — those of human females. It is said that no woman can compare with a female dolphin in the passion or skills of sex. Stories are told of men who began to copulate with female dolphins, and found it so pleasurable they could not stop, until first their semen and then their blood was completely drained. Don Agustin Rivas tells how, when he was thirteen years old, he in fact had sex with a dolphin that had jumped into his boat — a dolphin, he says, “with small breasts and pubic hair just like a woman.” He thought the dolphin had jumped into his boat in order to have sex with him; he had heard “that dolphins could be more sexually gratifying than women,” so he took off his pants and had sex with it.
Dolphins are not hunted for food, but for body parts. If a man wears the ear of a dolphin on his wrist, he will enjoy large and lasting erections; the vulva of a dolphin tied on the upper arm makes one irresistible to women; hanging a dolphin tooth around the neck of a child will cure diarrhea; a powder made from the pulverized eye, fat, teeth, or penis of the dolphin may be used to seduce women. A sorcerer can attack a woman using the penis of a dolphin, calling the spirit of the dolphin to inflict on the woman a voracious sexual appetite, which she then alleviates with every available man. The slaughter of river dolphins for these purposes may be endangering the species.
The sexual reputation of dolphins is not entirely unearned. Take a look at this: