Baiji White Dolphin
The Baiji the first dolphin to be declared extinct in modern time!
Baiji White Dolphin, also called the Chinese River Dolphin, can only be found in the Yangtze River in China.
These mammals could grow to eight feet long and weigh up to a quarter of a ton.
They relied on echolocation to navigate and hunt for pray due to their tiny eyes and very poor eyesight.
Living in the Yangtze for 20 million years, their numbers declined drastically from the 1950s onwards.
As China industrialised, the river was used for fishing, transportation and hydroelectricity which had a huge effect on the mammals.
Although not officially recorded as extinct, no one has seen a Yangtze River Dolphin since 2002.
The main threats that Baijis faced and took them to the extinction were:
– Bycatch. – Illegal fishing. Using electricity and rolling hooks. – Overfishing. An activity that reduced the number and diversity of available food. – Contamination produced by companies and factories near the river. – Collisions with boats. – Construction of dams that split populations.
This dolphin is protected in China since 1975 and in 1986 Chinese biologists established protection strategies. They even created a dolphin reserve along the Yangtze (Baiji Xin-Luo National Reserve), but obviously, it was too late to get results. Currently, the patrol boats of the reserve are responsible for supervising the compliance of the protection measures and investigating sightings and deaths of species that inhabit the river, but sadly these dolphins are not there anymore.