The following Brazilian urban legend was performed over coffee on April 23rd, 2019. According to the informant, in Brazil if you don’t know who the dad of a child is, “you say the dad is a pink dolphin, like the amazon pink dolphin.” The urban legend states that “every full moon the pink dolphin would hop out of the water and turn into a handsome man in an all white suit,” complete with a hat to “hide his blowhole.” He would then seduce women, impregnate them, and disappear back into the water “cuz he’s a dolphin.”
When asked where the informant first heard of this tale, she replied that it’s a very common legend in Brazil. “You hear it everywhere: children’s books and music are big ones.” It was also a way for parents to gossip about “bastard” children in front of their own children. “That’s a pink dolphin kid”, meaning no one knows who the dad is. “I’ve always remembered it because it’s just so funny and random. It makes me laugh that my dad still uses it.”
This urban legend could exist as a way to explain absent fathers to children. The childlike details allow for widespread use in entertainment AND let parents speak in code about adult topics around children.
For more information on Brazilian Pink Dolphin beliefs, please visit:
Cravalho, Mark A. “Shameless Creatures: An Ethnozoology of the Amazon River Dolphin.” Ethnology, vol. 38, no. 1, 1999, pp. 47–58. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3774086.
Informant – “Dolphins are considered good luck when they swim with the ship. And it’s bad luck to kill a dolphin.”
JK – “Where does this belief come from?”
Informant – “I just think that dolphins are friendly to humans. They have a long history of…there’s stories of them chasing sharks away and swimming with humans. They are sweet creatures and really intelligent. That level of intelligence demands respect.”
JK – “Where did you hear it from?”
Informant – “I just grew up with that. My father would tell me about dolphins. And there have been a couple of times in my life where I’ve actually seen it. They’ll play in the wake of the ship. It’s really neat.”
There seems to be very logical reasons for this superstition. So much so, that it hardly seems superstitious. Dolphins are historically friendly/helpful creatures, so a pod following your ship is definitely a good thing. It’s hard to think of a valid reason to kill a dolphin, so it makes sense why doing so would be seen as bad luck.