Real Pics of Pink Dolphin Seen Off North Carolina Coast?

Claim:

Photos from June 2024 authentically depict a pink dolphin seen off the coast of North Carolina.

Rating:

Fake

On June 19, 2024, a series of images depicting a pink dolphin supposedly found off the coast of North Carolina went viral on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, X, TikTok, and Instagram.

We ran the images through AI-detection software Hive, and the results said they were 99% AI-generated.

(Hive)

It appears Facebook account @Alex Lex created the images. The account posted other similarly AI-generated images, including one of someone barbecuing what appeared to be pink dolphins and one of a pink dolphin with a sign around its neck reading “ALEX LEX NEVER LIE.” In another post, he wrote: “Apologies for flooding your Facebook feed with posts about the pink dolphin.”

It appears that the Alex Lex account and Facebook account Outer Banks Vibes – where the images originally went viral with over 53,000 reactions and 8,200 comments – are connected. “Facebook trending today, 179k people talking about it,” the Alex Lex account wrote in a post sharing a screenshot of the Outer Banks Vibes post. We reached out the Alex Lex Facebook account for confirmation and will update this story if we receive a response.

Many people weighed in across social media on the likelihood of a pink dolphin appearing off the coast of North Carolina. While pink dolphins do exist, they are extremely rare. There are two main kinds of pink dolphins: Amazon river dolphins (also known as Pink river dolphins) and albino bottlenose dolphins.

Amazon river dolphins live only in freshwater and are primarily found in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins in Bolivia Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They appear distinctly different from the bottlenose dolphin seen in the AI-generated images; the head and snout are completely different shapes. Additionally, Amazon river dolphins range from solid gray, to mottled gray and pink, to pink, but their skin pigment does not resemble that seen in the AI-generated images.

Pink River Dolphin or Boto (Inia geoffrensis) (Getty Images)

People have sighted Albino bottlenose dolphins, though also rare, in the wild. A whale museum in Japan also captured an albino dolphin. In 2009, The Guardian published a story about an albino bottlenose dolphin seen in a Lake Calcasieu, a saltwater estuary in Louisiana. As explained in the story:

(The Guardian)

We reached out to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, who confirmed that they have not received any report of a pink dolphin sighting off the coast of North Carolina. 

In sum, because the images appear to have originated from an account that regularly posts AI-generated images, including other AI-generated images depicting pink dolphins, AI-detection software Hive estimated the images to be 99.9% AI-generated, and given the unlikelihood of a pink dolphin appearing off the North Carolina coast, we have rated these photos and this claim “Fake.”

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