Posted on Friday, 6 May 2011

Baiji Dolphin
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The Baiji population declined drastically in recent decades as China industrialized and made heavy use of the river for fishing, transportation, and hydroelectricity. As China developed economically, pressure on the river dolphin grew significantly. Industrial and residential waste flowed into the Yangtze. The riverbed was dredged and reinforced with concrete in many locations. Ship traffic multiplied, boats grew in size, and fishermen employed wider and more lethal nets. Noise pollution caused the nearly blind animal to collide with propellers. In the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated half of Baiji deaths were attributed to entanglement in fishing gear. Only a few hundred were left by 1970. Then the number dropped down to 400 by the 1980s and then to 13 in 1997 when a full-fledged search was conducted. The dolphin was declared functionally extinct after an expedition late in 2006 failed to record a single individual after an extensive search of the animal’s entire range.

Baiji Dolphin

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The Baiji population declined drastically in recent decades as China industrialized and made heavy use of the river for fishing, transportation, and hydroelectricity. As China developed economically, pressure on the river dolphin grew significantly. Industrial and residential waste flowed into the Yangtze. The riverbed was dredged and reinforced with concrete in many locations. Ship traffic multiplied, boats grew in size, and fishermen employed wider and more lethal nets. Noise pollution caused the nearly blind animal to collide with propellers. In the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated half of Baiji deaths were attributed to entanglement in fishing gear. Only a few hundred were left by 1970. Then the number dropped down to 400 by the 1980s and then to 13 in 1997 when a full-fledged search was conducted. The dolphin was declared functionally extinct after an expedition late in 2006 failed to record a single individual after an extensive search of the animal’s entire range.

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