Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baiji Dolphins: On the trail of the Yangtze's lost dolphin

Some more extensive coverage here of the current Yangtze Baiji expedition. This Guardian article by Jonathan Watts suggests that there has been a single unconfirmed sighting of a Baiji Dolphin this year (prior to the current expedition), but nothing has been seen by these scientists so far. Depressing indeed.

The article includes a 16 page slideshow which features a picture of Qi Qi, the Baiji Dolphin that lived at the Wuhan Aquarium for 22 years before dying of old age in 2002.
Murky water, hazy sky and dull brown riverbanks. Strained eyes peering into the mist. Ears tuned electronically into the depths. And with each hour, each day that passes, a nagging question that grows louder: is this how a species ends after 20 million years on earth?

When they write the environmental history of early 21st-century China, the freshwater dolphin expedition now plying the Yangtze river may be seen as man's farewell to an animal it once worshipped. A team of the world's leading marine biologists is making a last-gasp search for the baiji, a dolphin that was revered as the goddess of Asia's mightiest river but is now probably the planet's most endangered mammal.

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