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Chinese River Dolphin

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Chinese River Dolphin
Conservation status: Critical
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Subclass:Eutheria
Order:Cetacea
Suborder:Odontoceti
Family:Lipotidae
Genus:Lipotes
Species:L. vexillifer
Binomial name
Lipotes vexillifer
Miller, 1918
Missing image
Cetacea_range_map_Chinese_River_Dolphin.PNG
Chinese River Dolphin range


The Chinese River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) is a freshwater dolphin found only in the Yangtze River in China. It is the only member of its genus. Other names for it include Baiji Pinyin:Beiji, Pai-chi (Wade-Giles), Whitefin Dolphin, Whiteflag Dolphin, Yangtze Dolphin, and Yangtze River Dolphin. It is nicknamed "the Goddess of the Yangtze River" in China.

Contents

Early history

Fossil records indicate that the dolphins migrated from the Pacific to Yangtze River 20,000 years ago. The dolphins are described during the Han Dynasty in a biological encyclopedia, Erya. It is estimated that there were 5,000 Baijis at that time. In 1978, the Chinese Academy of Sciences established the Freshwater Dolphin Research Centre as a branch of the Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology.

The chronology of the species' rapid decline

Its current population is difficult to estimate, but it is thought that there are at least thirteen individuals still alive. Needless to say, that is an extremely low number and it is therefore thought to be the world's most endangered cetacean. A captive specimen, a male named Qiqi was located at the Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology from 1980 to July 14, 2002. Qiqi was discovered by a fisherman in Dongting Lake, and later became the sole resident of Baiji Dolphin Aquarium beside East Lake. There was a later captive, which died after living a year (1996 to 1997) in the Shishou Semi-natural Baiji Dolphin Sanctuary that had been empty since 1990. A female was found in Chongming Island near Shanghai in 1998, but she did not eat any provided food and starved to death within a month.

Conservation

The Baiji Dolphin Conservation Foundation of Wuhan , the first Chinese aquatic species protection organization, was founded in December 1996. The Foundation has gathered 1,383,924.35 CNY (about 10,034.02 USD) and have spent the financial resources on in vitro cell preservation and maintenance of the Baiji facilities, including the 1998-flooded Shishou Sanctuary.

Three Gorges Dam

The introduction of the Three Gorges Dam has altered the habitat of the Yangtze River Dolphin. It is almost certain that the species will be extinct by the end of the decade, if it is not already.

See also

External links

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