Skip to comments.Yangtzse River dolphin 'now extinct'
Posted on 08/08/2007 8:38:26 AM PDT by BGHater
The Yangtze River dolphin enjoys a rare and depressing distinction, according to new research.
The grey white, long-beaked animal is the world's first cetacean -the order of whales, dolphins and porpoises -to be made extinct by man, concludes an international team that has conducted comprehensive surveys of its habitat.
The demise of the near-blind mammal also represents the first extinction of a large vertebrate (backboned animal) for more than 50 years, since overhunting claimed the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s. A zoologist said it was a "shocking tragedy."
The paper, lead-authored by Dr Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), is published in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters and blames its extinction on a degraded habitat in the Yangtze waters of eastern China.
With little need to see in the shallow, turbid Yangtze waters, the dolphin - for centuries called the Goddess of the Yangtze and the subject of myth and legend - evolved a highly effective sonar above its beak.
But the roar of marine traffic along one of China's premier waterways effectively blinded it. Ships and tourist boats sucked them into their propellers, pollution poisoned their river home and, most of all, they suffered because of overfishing.
In the 1950s several thousand baiji, as the dolphins are known in Chinese, were thought to swim in the Yangtze. The last authenticated record was in 2001. By the end of 2006, an expedition by the team triggered reports that the creature was functionally extinct, suggesting only one or two individuals at most survived. Now the team concludes it is probably extinct.
Dr Turvey said: "The primary factor responsible for the baiji's extinction was probably unsustainable by-catch in uncontrolled and unselective local fisheries, which use rolling hook long lines, nets and electro-fishing.
"Relatively little information remains available on causes of baiji mortality, but between 40-50 per cent of all known baiji deaths over the past few decades were caused by fishing gear. "
"The loss of such a unique and charismatic species is a shocking tragedy. The Yangtze River dolphin was a remarkable mammal that separated from all other species over 20m years ago.
"This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life and emphasises that we have yet to take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet."
At the Hydrobiology Institute in Wuhan, the story of the stuffed, enamelled body of Qi-Qi, the most famous Yangtze River dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) to have lived in captivity tells how the march of modernisation transformed the dolphin's river home in silty waters into its graveyard.
The dolphin was found badly bruised, the victim of illegal fishing, in 1980. A female was introduced to his enclosure once but she died before she was old enough to reproduce.
"This wasn't the only Yangtze dolphin kept in captivity - there were actually several over the years," said Dr Turvey. "However, Qi-Qi lived for over 22 years, was the last surviving captive baiji, and became the most famous baiji individual.
Dr Turvey added, "The baiji's extinction also highlights the need for new conservation initiatives in China's increasingly threatened Yangtze ecosystem, which is also home to endangered freshwater porpoises, seven-metre long fish, giant salamanders and white Siberian cranes."
Scientists and environmentalists are now focusing on saving its cousin, the finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides). About 2,700 porpoises lived along the Yangtze in 1991 but the population is now "rapidly declining," he said.
What a truly sad loss.
China : Wildlife :: Michael Vick : Dogs
I wonder how he was prepared, and what wine was used?
The grey white, long-beaked animal is the world’s first cetacean...to be made extinct by man.
Correction: Made extinct by the Chinese Communists
I think that in China, “illegal fishing” is when you fish without paying someone off. The chinese government doesn’t care much about humans, so why would they care about a fish?
Shocking news from the People's Republic of Red China? Not.
It's surprising they lasted that long.
Is it gone or is the water so polluted that it left?.......
Correction: Made extinct by the Chinese Communists
And environmentalism is the modern cover for communists, so this is the worlds first cetacean to be made extinct by environmentalists.
You're glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed! No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed. So I'm sending them off. Oh, their future is dreary. They'll walk on their fins and get woefully weary in search of some water that isn't so smeary.
China is in the midst of building the world’s largest dam across the Yangtze ... I suppose that also was a contributing factor.
I’m shocked that Klintoon’s good friend and Strategic Partner, Red China, would allow their rivers to become so polluted that indigenous species would go extinct. /sarc
It was Bush’s fault.
Is it extinct, or just exitnct in the wild? I know I have seen examples of this species in captivity, or have all those passed as well?
Simply attaching a cage around the propellers would have eliminated that problem.
Excellent. Following logic to it’s conclusion.
It should be honored in being a pioneer. But there are a lot more cetaceans out there, people ...
“Yangtzse River dolphin ‘now extinct’”
Stan: Dude, dolphins are intelligent and friendly.
Cartman: Intelligent and friendly on rye bread with some mayonnaise.
It's China though, so the Sierra Club/Greenpeace crowd is silent.
Well, if you believe in Evolution you can still hope that another dolphin will evolve to take its place. No big deal.
!Taste rike chricken!
Given the extreme concentration and focus of Chinese civilization and population around mailand China’s rivers and its ocean coasts - for more than 1,000 years - I am surprized this animal was not extinct before now. I wonder how many species of animal in Asia went extinct already - during the period of civilized humanity - before modern societies started tracking such events.
I wonder what competitors the Buffalo helped to extinction during the period when “native” Americans did all they could to insure the Buffalo’s dominance of the great plains.
....somehow the US (and George Bush) will get blamed for this....
Don’t know how true it is but I once read that 99% of all species that have ever lived on this planet are now extinct.
These things only lived in a very small part of one river in one country of the world. They didn’t mate well, and they were mostly blind. This species is was not exactly an evolutionary powerhouse. The idea that evolution on Earth has some how been stopped by environmenatl awarness is silly. There were only 5000 of these things 2300 years ago. It’s amazing they made it this long.
Up next for China’s extinction program - human girls.
Left for where?
“The grey white, long-beaked animal is the worlds first cetacean...to be made extinct by man.
Correction: Made extinct by the Chinese Communists”
Thank you. I noticed that too. Don’t blame this shiite on “mankind”, blame the damn Chinese, they did it.
now if only the spotted owl would follow
More proof that the Reds only pretend to be Green in order to make the world Red.
Can't tear-jerk gobs of cash off of soccer moms and ignorant college kids in China.
That's the real untold story here: they are not extinct. They have simply evolved into another species!
What kind of stupid logic is that?
Or the opposite, you believe one will spontaneously appear because an inteligent design requires them to “be there”.
Not true. Democratuswithabackbonus became extinct in the 1960s.
“This species is was not exactly an evolutionary powerhouse.”
“And yet they’ve been around for 20 million years.”
Yup. Only 20 million years. That proves how unsuccessful a species they were. If it were`nt for humans driving them to extinction, they would still be thriving and proving how unsuccessful a species they were.
not to be confused with Republicanuswithoutspinus which is a spineless mammal...
Note: this topic is from 8/08/2007. Thanks BGHater.
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Meet the Ichthyosaur
Nature has been playing around with this form for over a hundred million years. A newer, more successful animal form has developed and it is going to replace many species on this planet that cannot compete in the new order of things. Don't be sad, its just the nature at work.
George Carlin put it best:
Let me tell you about endangered species, all right? Saving endangered species is just one more arrogant attempt by humans to control Nature! Its arrogant meddling! Its what got us into trouble in the first place! Doesnt anybody understand that? Interfering with Nature! Over 90 percent.. over way over 90 percent of all the species that have ever lived EVER LIVED on this planet are gone. Whissshht! They are extinct!
We didnt kill them all.
They just disappeared! Thats what Nature does! They disappear these days at the rate of 25 a day, and I mean regardless of our behavior. Irrespective of how we act on this planet, 25 species that were here today, will be gone tomorrow! Let them go gracefully! Leave Nature alone! Havent we done enough?