The End for the Baji?

Posted on January 17, 2007

The search for baiji, a rare white dolphin that lives in the Yangtze River has ended in sad failure MSNBC.com reports.
An expedition searching for a rare Yangtze River dolphin ended Wednesday without a single sighting and with the team's leader saying one of the world's oldest species was effectively extinct.

The white dolphin known as baiji, shy and nearly blind, dates back some 20 million years. Its disappearance is believed to be the first time in a half-century, since hunting killed off the Caribbean monk seal, that a large aquatic mammal has been driven to extinction.

A few baiji may still exist in their native Yangtze habitat in eastern China but not in sufficient numbers to breed and ward off extinction, said August Pfluger, the Swiss co-leader of the joint Chinese-foreign expedition.

"We have to accept the fact, that the Baiji is functionally extinct. We lost the race," Pfluger said in a statement released by the expedition. "It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world. We are all incredibly sad."
You can read a lot more about the expedition here on baiji.org, the website for the baiji.org foundation, a small network of specialists including scientists and freshwater conservation experts. They also have a blog. You can also listen to the baiji's whistle while you are there.
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