Photographer Jeremy Wade has twice encountered a mysterious animal known only as holadeira while searching for Amazon pink river dolphins (Inia geoffriensis). He first saw it in August of 1993, when a saw-toothed crest surfaced out of the water about 100 feet from his boat. Wade said that the nearest local inhabitant, a man who lives near the river's shore and is familiar with the waters, did not recognize the animal as anything he had ever seen.

Wade returned to England several weeks later, and had the photos from the trip developed. Sure enough, a saw-toothed back, surfacing out of the water, could be seen on one of the photos. Furthermore, the coloration and movement of the mysterious animal positively identified it as an Amazon pink river dolphin, even though they have no such crest. So, in pursuit of the saw-toothed animal, Wade returned to the Amazon the next year.

Most of the locals remained unfamiliar with the animal in Wade's photograph, although a few of them recognized it. One man spoke of an animal "with teeth on its back," which he said was probably a pink dolphin which had been cut by a net. Another local, this time a woman, said she saw something similar in the late 1970s. Another fisherman called it Holadeira, naming it after the word for saw. Wade soon realized that most of the sightings originated from one area, suggesting to him that the Holadeira, whatever it was, was a single individual.

Several weeks later, Wade was speaking to another fisherman who recognized the creature in the photograph. He said that he had seen it only two weeks previously, across the river.

Finally, Wade was greeted with success - while filming a group of dolphins which were surfacing, he caught another image of the elusive Holadeira. This time, the head of the creature was seen, and it was certain that it was, indeed, a dolphin. But what was it?

The most likely theory is, as the fisherman suggested, that it is a dolphin injured by a net or outboard motor. Alternatively, it could represent a genetic fluke. It is unlikely to represent a new species, since only one individual has ever been sighted. Other evidence supporting the conclusion is that Wade sighted it with known dolphins. Unfortunately, we will probably never solve the mystery of Holadeira.

WADE, Jeremy
1997        Hell's Teeth.   Fortean Times 99 (July).

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