Sunday, March 26, 2006

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Yangtse dolphin becomes a victim of China's success

Some very sad news from the Telegraph. The first week of a pilot project looking for signs of the Baiji Dolphin has failed to turn up any sign of the ultra-endangered marine mammal...
A team of scientists is to scan 1,000 miles of China's Yangtse River to see if its unique species of dolphin is the first member of the family of porpoises, dolphins and whales to have become extinct.

Using binoculars and underwater microphones, experts from Britain, the United States and China will spend eight weeks this autumn surveying the newly industrialised habitat of the white river dolphin.

A pilot project that began a week ago has failed to find one, leading to fears that the dolphin, or baiji as it is known in Chinese, has succumbed to the country's rapid economic growth.
[...]
The 1990s survey found 13 of the dolphins, leading him to conclude that there were fewer than 100 of the creatures left, but only a handful have been seen in the past few years.

The last sighting, of a mother and child, was in May last year.