Pollution, river traffic and over fishing have all been cited by experts as reasons for the dolphins rapid decline. The dolphins are carnivore preying on fish for food. Melville’s Whale Was a Warning We Failed to Heed, Amanda Jelena Radoman: Manatees being fed sweet potatoes… while looking like sweet potatoes, Trying to Make Sense of This Overwhelming World. The baiji is the only member of the mammal family called Lipotidae. To deal with these annual floods a dyke was constructed between the Yangtze and Shishou. Not far away from the dolphin, a man was also swimming in the river. The other five species, including the boto and the La Plata dolphin, have survived in the Río de la Plata and Amazon rivers in South America and the Ganges and Indus rivers on the Indian subcontinent. The Yangtze River dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer), or baiji, are a type of freshwater dolphin thought to be the first dolphin species driven to extinction due to the impact of humans. "Status and aspects of the ecology and behaviour of the baiji (, Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Expedition 2006, List of endangered and protected species of China, "Lipotes vexillifer (Chinese river dolphin)", 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T12119A3322533.en, "Conservation of the Baiji: No Simple Solution", "China's Rare River Dolphin Now Extinct, Experts Announce", "Rare Dolphin Seen in China, Experts Say", "Report of the Workshop on Conservation of the Baiji and Yangtze Finless Porpoise", "Baiji genomes reveal low genetic variability and new insights into secondary aquatic adaptations", "Rescue Plan Prepared for Yangtze River Dolphins", "First human-caused extinction of a cetacean species? They have been legally protected in China since 1975 and programs to breed Yangtze river dolphins in captivity have been established to preserve the species. It has been reported that since the installation of this sluice gate, water quality has declined since no annual transfer of nutrients can occur. [27], As China developed economically, pressure on the river dolphin grew significantly. Sound emission is focused and highly directed by the shape of the skull and melon. The last confirmed sighting of the Chinese river dolphin was in 2007, a year after scientists declared the species functionally extinct after failing to find any during a six-week search. 101+ Ways | Join our Group | Donate | Shop, Symbionts, Parasites, Hosts & Cooperation, The Structures & Adaptations to Marine Living, Marine Science/Ocean Life Related Journals, Marine Biology Laboratories, Institutes & Graduate Programs, Worldwide Aquariums and Marine Life Centers, Frontline Marine Conservation/Science Support, Worldwide Aquariums & Marine Life Centers, Current IUCN Conservation Status of Yangtze River Dolphins, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Yangtze River Dolphins, Check the Seafood Watch List for this species, Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species program, Reported Sighting of Extinct River Dolphin is Unlikely. The last known living baiji was Qiqi (淇淇), which died in 2002. Noise pollution caused the nearly blind animal to collide with propellers. Yangtze River Dolphins are likely to live in deep of water. [19] Approximately 12% of the world’s human population lives and works within the Yangtze River catchment area, putting pressure on the river.[20]. New Zealand dolphins [60], In October 2016 several news sources announced a recent sighting of what has been speculated to be a baiji. In 2002, it was estimated there were less than 50 Baiji Dolphins in the world and was one of 12 most endangered animals in the world. A 30% pregnancy rate was observed. provide some hope that the Baiji may be able to make a comeback. In 1990s, the Yangtze River Dolphins disappeared in Donting Lake and Boyang Lake. In the past 20 years, five nature reserves have been [9], A related creature from the Neogene period is Parapontoporia. Construction of the first dam across the mainstream of the Yangtze River - the Gezhouba Dam - began in 1970. They were frequently snagged and trapped on hooks attached to longlines placed on the riverbed; entangled in gillnets; and killed by electric shocks used in electrofishing. For example, the Yangtze River dolphin, a species local to the river, is extremely endangered. Through firsthand experience, they went to China, drinking Baiji beer and Baiji cola, staying in the Baiji Hotel and using Lipotes vexillifer toilet paper. Yangtze river dolphins are one of the most highly endangered species in the cetacean family with an estimated population between 60-250 animals though recent surveys have not found a single individual. The last confirmed sighting of a Yangtze River dolphin was a dead body near Nanjing section; 4. According to the research from 2000 to 2004, the dolphins live mainly along the section between Dongting Lake to Tongling; 3. The aim is to also generate income from tourism which can be put towards the baiji plight. Biologist Samuel Turvey, who has written a book about the baiji’s extinction, told the Guardian he was sceptical. From the designation as a national reserve in 1992 it has been intended to be used for not only the baiji but also the Yangtze finless porpoise. On August 19, 2007, a Tongling citizen came across and videoed a mystery animal which was later confirmed as a Yangtze River dolphin by the expert from Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Science. Create a commenting name to join the debate, There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts, There are no comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. As humans continue to occupy the river and use the natural resources it provided, the question as to whether the river itself can reach a point later in the future to become a habitat for these species to live in once again remained, for the most part, unanswered by conservationists. However, capturing the rare, quick dolphins proved to be difficult, and few captives survived more than a few months.[27]. Calves measured around 80–90 centimetres (31–35 in) at birth, and nursed for 8–20 months. The Yangtze River has had significant problems with that. 52nd Meeting of the International Whaling Commission, Adelaide, Australia. The Baiji was one of five species of dolphins known to have made fresh water their exclusive habitat. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. GBIF network ~ OBIS distribution map ~ AquaMaps. Only a few hundred were left by 1970. Want an ad-free experience?Subscribe to Independent Premium. A dolphin declared functionally extinct 10 years ago may have been spotted by Chinese conservationists in the Yangtze river. A baiji conservation dolphinarium was established at the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) in Wuhan in 1992. The Baiji is not closely related to any living species of dolphin, having diverged from the ancestors of the La Plata dolphin and Amazon River dolphin during the Miocene, estimated to be around 16 million years ago. In 1997, there were only an estimated 13 left, and the baiji was the most critically endangered dolphin in the world. But the “goddess of the Yangtze”, which migrated up Asia’s longest river 20 million years ago, was reportedly seen leaping out of the water by witnesses last week. As the Yangtze travels across Yichang, some swimming enthusiasts have been commuting by swimming. Historically, the Yangtze River Dolphin, also known as the Baiji, primarily inhabited the lower half of the Yangtze River, in Asia. Bioscience. Baijis (and fishermen alike) favour these habitats to catch fish. Not everyone is as confident about the alleged sighting. [58] Senior Chinese government officials and scholars said the dam could cause a “huge disaster ... if steps are not taken promptly.”[57] The same scholars and officials previously had defended the Three Gorges Dam project. Turvey instead proposed to shift conservation focus to the critically endangered Narrow-ridged finless porpoise, the only freshwater cetaceans left in China. The damages and the depleted numbers had already taken too heavy of a toll on them. It is known that they reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years of age. It has been estimated that US$1 million was needed to begin the project and maintain it for a further 3 years. Webber, FAO species identification guide, Marine mammals of the world, Rome, FAO. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has noted the following as threats to the species: a period of hunting by humans during the Great Leap Forward, entanglement in fishing gear, the illegal practice of electric fishing, collisions with boats and ships, habitat loss, and pollution. Increasing numbers of boats and ships using the river resulted in more baijis being injured and killed by collisions. Now the most endangered cetacean in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the baiji was last sighted in August 2004, though there was a possible sighting in 2007. They are timid and are easily frightened. Qi-Qi was just a year old then, injured by fishing hooks in 1980 and taken into captivity to be nursed back to health. In the 1950s, the Yangtze river and neighbouring watercourses had a population of thousands of freshwater dolphins, also known as Baiji, but … In the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated half of baiji deaths were attributed to entanglement in fishing gear and nets.