Stories tagged river dolphin

I'm not dead yet!

by Gene on Aug. 31st, 2007

Contrary to previous reports, the Chinese river dolphin may not yet be extinct. A man claims to have videotaped an animal which may be a member of this critically endangered species.


Enjoy the picture
Enjoy the pictureCourtesy Alessio Marrucci
After an “intensive survey of its natural habitat,” the Yangtze River dolphin has been officially declared extinct. So if, as a person, you ever wanted to see one alive, you’re out of luck. And if, as a Yangtze River dolphin, you ever wanted to be alive, also, you’re out of luck.

From a population of thousands in the 1950s, human activity reduced the Yangtze River, or Baiji, dolphin to just a handful of individuals by the turn of the century. Industrialization of the Yangtze River, unsustainable fishing practices, and mass shipping, rather than direct human persecution, placed the Baiji dolphins under extreme pressure, and now they’re all dead, forever. An article in The Guardian states that this is “the fourth time an entire evolutionary line of mammals has vanished from the face of the Earth since the year 1500.” Quite an achievement.

Cross it off your list.


Chinese river dolphin: extinct?
Chinese river dolphin: extinct?

An international team of scientists recently spent six weeks on China's Yangtze River looking for the endangered river dolphin. They were unable to find any, leading some to believe the animal has been driven to extinction.

The 8-foot-long mammal has lived in China's longest river for 20 million years. But massive increases in fishing, shipping and development have pushed the creature to the brink. The last confirmed sighting occurred in 2004, and the last captive dolphin died in 2002.

By definition, scientists don't consider an animal extinct until 50 years after the last sighting in the wild. And the recent survey focused on the river's main channel - it's possible some dolphins may yet hang on in the tributaries. But even if they do, it's unlikely the population can ever recover.