Saturday, June 04, 2005

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Yangtze dams driving 'panda of the water' to extinction

News from the Three Gorges Probe News Service about the effect of the Three Gorges dam on the wildlife of the Yangtze.
Dams, pollution, river traffic and illegal fishing have pushed to the brink of extinction a fish species that has swum in the Yangtze River since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

The Chinese sturgeon, sometimes referred to as "the panda of the water" because of its endangered status, is thought to date back as far as 140 million years, to the Mesozoic Era. But the megadam era could be the death of it.
"Just as nobody is seeing the Yangtze dolphin or Yangtze white sturgeon any longer, one of these days it will be extremely hard to catch a Chinese sturgeon," Prof. Wei of the fisheries institute in Jingzhou laments.

"This is not just a matter of the loss of a kind of fish. It reflects a serious ecological problem in the Yangtze valley as a whole." He uses the term "ecological desertification of the Yangtze" to describe how species in the river are rapidly being driven to extinction.