The sad tale of Asian Baiji Chinese river dolphin extinction
The Chinese River Dolphin history
The lovely look of a Chinese river dolphin also known as the baiji, well represented by an old Chinese legend describing the water mammal true identity in the past.
The story revealed that baiji dolphin used to be a princess and was drowned by her family because she had refused to marry a person she did not fall in love with.
Back in the old days, these Chinese dolphins also carried another nickname, “the Goddess of the Yangtze”. As a matter of fact, the baiji, a freshwater animal that closely related to those you can find in South East Asia’s Indus and Ganges rivers.
Other relative to this mammal can be found in the upper reaches of the great Amazon River. These river dolphins, one of those rare animals that own very little transformation in terms of the way they look in comparison to their ancestor’s appearances back in 20 million of years ago.
For centuries, the baiji river dolphins had been gifted because they never met any problem to adapt to their natural habitat.
For hundred of years ago, there were about thousands of baiji dolphins swam around and hunting for huge amount of fish in the river. The baiji never worried to face any predator, simply because there were not any.
The baiji unique appearances
Probably the most distinctive feature that Chinese river dolphin famous for, none other than the long beak and the curvy look upward smiley mouth-line.
The rounded forehead and small eyes and high up on the head.
Most of river dolphins in Asia are blind, but these baiji dolphins were able to see despite their poor vision.
In overall, a baiji dolphin back’s color was bluish gray with grayish white on the belly. In other words, it was easy to identify which one Chinese baiji dolphin to other river dolphins outside China.
Scientists believe the way that these baiji dolphins look always associated with their smaller cousin, the less famous finless porpoise.
The baiji Chinese river dolphin behavior
The river dolphin was perhaps a nocturnal, which means more active at night. The Chinese river dolphin was a quiet animal, swam around alone or in a group of six.
Scientist found the swimming pattern was somehow difficult to be recorded. Sometimes they were seen to swim in a slow pace, another time a sudden change of direction occurred while they swimming. The blow generated high pitch sound, similar to a sneeze.
Natural habitat of baiji dolphins
The Chinese river dolphins used to be found along the lower and middle section of Yangtze river.
However over couple of decades ago, they can only be found within the downstream of Dongting Lake.
The Yangtze river dolphin was China’s national treasure, and the local authority had protected these baiji dolphins since 1975 before the extinction was announced in 2006.
The Baiji Dolphin habitat
The devastating baiji dolphin extinction news
In December 2006 announcement was made clearly none other than the Baiji dolphin extinction.
Years before the news, scientists and conservation activists had warned the decreasing number of population of Chinese river dolphin.
The Chinese baiji was far rarer than the famous panda bear but somehow conservation program failed to find ways stopping the decreasing number of these beloved Yangtze River dolphins.
In the 1940s there were still around 5000 to 6000 of baiji dolphins swam across 1700 kilometers from lower to middle part of Yangtze River.
The last sighting of a baiji was in 2004, but that was the last time for anyone to see the very existence of this beautiful animal.
The once pure Yangtze’s water was slowly contaminated with plastics, industrial waste, in addition to oil, due to increasing number of development and industrialization in China.
As the China’s economy grow even further soar above their competitors and so did the inevitable extinction of baiji dolphins turned into reality.
Once again human should take full responsibility over this unnecessary situation, and we don’t want that to happen again with other river dolphin species such as the finless porpoise.
Dolphin related sites and news
- New Dolphin Species Discovered in Big City Harbor
An entirely new species of dolphin has been discovered in the shadows of Australian skyscrapers, scientists say.
- South Asian River Dolphins, Platanista gangetica at MarineBio.org
South Asian River Dolphins, Platanista gangetica, Mammalia, Cetacea, Platanistidae, Descriptions and Fascinating Facts, World Ranges and Habitats, Feeding Behaviors, Life History, Ecology, Reproduction, Conservation Status, References, and Further Re
- WWF - Ganges River Dolphin - A blind dolphin in one of the world's most densely populated area
Protect endangered species at World Wildlife Fund. Learn about the various wild animal protection programs we have.
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